New Zealand’s Crusaders lose for the first time since mosque shootings

The Waratahs and the Crusaders Super Rugby teams join together before their game for a minute silence for the victims of the New Zeland mass shootings in Sydney, Australia, Saturday, March 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Updated 24 March 2019
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New Zealand’s Crusaders lose for the first time since mosque shootings

  • The Christchurch-based Crusaders saw their year-long, 19-game winning streak ended in Sydney by the New South Wales Waratahs
  • The Crusaders have been asked by fans to change their name following last week's terror mosques attack that killed at least 50 worshippers

PRETORIA, South Africa: The Crusaders lost for the first time this season and the Chiefs won for the first time, shaking up Super Rugby at the top and the bottom of the standings on Saturday.
In their first game since the mosque shootings in their home city eight days earlier, the Christchurch-based Crusaders saw their year-long, 19-game winning streak ended in Sydney by the New South Wales Waratahs.
Wallabies fullback Israel Folau sealed the Waratahs’ 20-12 win and equaled Doug Howlett’s record of 59 Super Rugby tries when he followed up on a high kick and reacted quickest to score the home team’s third try in the 73rd minute. The Waratahs led 15-7 for most of the second half before Folau ensured there was no way back for the Crusaders.
The two-time defending champions’ first loss in a year was followed by another serious surprise in round six when the Hamilton-based Chiefs, winless and bottom of the overall standings, upset the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
The Chiefs didn’t just win. They hammered the Bulls 56-20 and seven tries to two. There were doubles by winger Solomon Alaimalo, center Alex Nankivell, and captain Brodie Retallick as the Chiefs, who once lost a Super Rugby final 61-17 at Loftus, produced a spectacular turnaround in form.
The Crusaders’ loss meant the Hurricanes drew level with them on points at the top of the New Zealand conference. The Lions, the losing finalists the last three years, moved a point behind the Crusaders in the overall standings after beating the Sunwolves in Singapore.
The Sunwolves were on the board first in that game through a penalty try which saw Lions wing Sylvian Mahuza yellow-carded for a deliberate knock down.
The Lions were inspired by hooker Malcolm Marx, who scored two tries and came up with numerous crucial turnovers in the 37-24 win. That capped a miserable couple of days for the Tokyo-based Sunwolves, who learned on Friday they would be cut from Super Rugby at the end of next season.
Also, the Hurricanes beat the Stormers 34-28, and the Sharks beat Melbourne Rebels 28-14 to both gain ground.
The Waratahs made a fast start against the Crusaders, scoring tries through lock Jeb Holloway and wing Cameron Clark to lead 12-0 after as many minutes. They then kept steady defensive pressure on the Crusaders who made an uncharacteristic 18 handling errors.
The Waratahs were able to pin the Crusaders within their half and those errors cost the champions their usual continuity.
“Looking up at the board I see we had 46 percent of possession so we’re building wins off defense,” Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said. “I’m really happy that we were able to get tries when we can and then were able to build a big wall to stop these guys.”
The Crusaders were playing their first game in two weeks after last weekend’s scheduled fixture against the Highlanders was canceled in the wake of the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch which left 50 dead. On Saturday at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the Crusaders and Waratahs players stood together silently before the game, arm in arm, to remember the victims.
Winger Wes Goosen scored two second-half tries and Beauden Barrett contributed 14 points as the Hurricanes rallied to beat the Stormers 34-28.
The match presented a stark contrast in styles between the Hurricanes, who lacked a reliable set-piece and tried to play the game at pace, and the Stormers, who sought to slow play and control possession through a powerful forward pack.
The Hurricanes finally emerged on top, snatching the lead with a try to Barrett 10 minutes from fulltime and outscoring the Stormers by five tries to three. The lead changed hands five times in a close match in which neither side managed to exert complete control.
“From the outcome point of view it was good, we were certainly after that win,” Barrett said. “But there were moments there where we were frustrated.”

 

 

 


McIlroy, Woods endure nightmare starts as Holmes takes British Open lead

Updated 18 July 2019
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McIlroy, Woods endure nightmare starts as Holmes takes British Open lead

  • American JB Holmes claims lead as championship returns to Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951
  • Woods and McIlroy now face daunting tasks to try and make the cut

PORTRUSH, UK: Home favorite Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods both endured dreadful starts to the British Open on Thursday, while American JB Holmes claimed the lead as the championship returned to Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951.
Organizers the R&A are anticipating the second-biggest ever Open attendance, with 237,750 people expected to come through the gates this week in Northern Ireland, but spectators were left stunned by McIlroy’s immediate collapse.
He briefly battled back after a bogey at the par-three third hole, but missed a tiny putt to double-bogey the 16th, tripled-bogeyed the last and eventually carded a disastrous eight-over 79.
“I guess when you play your first and last holes in a combined seven over par you are starting on the back foot,” said McIlroy.
The four-time major champion, who fired a course-record 61 at Portrush at the age of just 16 in 2005, was given a huge reception on the first tee as the crowds huddled around the opening hole for a sight of the local hero.
But he quadrupled-bogeyed the first after hitting his tee shot out of bounds.
Woods saw his bid for a 16th major title all but come to a premature end as he stuttered to a miserable seven-over 78, including six bogeys and a double bogey at the par-three sixth.
The Masters champion’s sole birdie of the day came at the par-four 15th, which he celebrated with an ironic raise of his arms, but he fittingly finished his round with one last bogey.
Woods and McIlroy now face daunting tasks to try and make the cut.
McIlroy is already 13 strokes adrift of leader Holmes — with Woods one better off — after the 37-year-old birdied the 18th to post an excellent five-under 66 and move one shot clear of previous leader Shane Lowry.
Holmes’ previous best major finish was third at the 2016 Open and he has missed eight cuts in his last 13 events, and withdrew from one of the others.
Ireland’s Lowry held the lead for much of the day before being toppled by Holmes, having to settle for second place heading into Friday.
The world number 33, who made five birdies in his 67, admitted he struggled to keep his nerves in check on the first tee, with the crowds lending strong support to all six players from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“It’s the British Open, it’s in Ireland. I feel like I’m hitting it well. Of course I feel uneasy,” he said.
There is a group of 13 players in the clubhouse just two strokes off the lead on three-under, including world number one Brooks Koepka and Spaniard Jon Rahm.
American Koepka made his only bogey of the day on the penultimate green, but felt he could have done much better.
“Didn’t really make any putts. Didn’t take advantage of anything to really go low,” said Koepka, who has finished in the top two of all three majors this year and is looking to add the Claret Jug to his two US Opens and two PGA Championship titles.
“But definitely didn’t shoot myself out of it, so I’m okay with that.”
Rahm, who won his second Irish Open title at Lahinch two weeks ago, held the lead on his own on various occasions, but dropped back with bogeys at the 15th and 18th holes.
English pair Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood are also among those on three-under, with the latter still looking for his maiden major title in his 25th consecutive British Open appearance.
Ryan Fox of New Zealand had a record-breaking day with the lowest back nine in Open history as he came home in 29 to get to join the pack of players who signed for 68s.
Reigning champion Francesco Molinari saw his hopes of becoming the first man to defend the title since Padraig Harrington in 2008 take a blow, only managing a three-over 74.
Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo got the crowds excited with the first hole-in-one at the championship since 2016 on the par-three 13th.