CHRISTCHURCH – Mitch Hunt scored a late try to salvage a 21-21 draw for the Crusaders in a thrilling Super Rugby clash against the Sharks in Christchurch on Friday.
The Sharks will be gutted with this end result, considering that they had looked well set to steal a stunning victory in Christchurch as they headed into the latter stages of this encounter.
At one point, the Durban-based side led 15-7 in the second half, while they still held a seven-point advantage heading into the final few minutes.
It was another gutsy display after last weekend’s win over the Waratahs in Sydney, and again the Sharks showed that they have a blueprint on defence to really test teams when they get it right.
In all, the Sharks had to make 154 tackles (compared to just 62 from the Crusaders), and their physicality in contact has to be commended, while it left the Saders well and truly rattled.
Of course, it has to be remembered that the Crusaders came into this clash without a host of front-line players, but this was one of the few occasions this season where they looked well and truly out-matched for large parts of the encounter.
Curwin Bosch, again starting at flyhalf, marshalled proceedings superbly for the Sharks, and the visitors went into halftime with a valuable 9-7 lead.
For much of the next period, the visitors remained in control of proceedings, but Jack Goodhue did score an important try for the Crusaders midway through the second stanza to reduce the deficit to one point.
From there, Bosch kept edging the Sharks further and further ahead.
Crusaders v Sharks | Super Rugby 2019 Rd 12 Highlights— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) May 3, 2019
The home winning streak’s at an end, but perseverance saw @crusadersrugby steal a draw against @The SharksZA in Christchurch, 21-21.#SuperRugby #CRUvSHA pic.twitter.com/mC0rxsHtVO
But in the dying stages, the Saders won penalty after penalty while launching a late and concerted attacking surge.
Eventually the Sharks’ defensive wall was broken, with Hunt scoring the decisive try and knocking over an angled conversion to ensure the hosts could at least settle for a share of the spoils.
Crusaders 21 – Tries: Codie Taylor, Jack Goodhue, Mitch Hunt. Conversions: Hunt (3).
Sharks 21 – Penalties: Curwin Bosch (7).
African News Agency (ANA)