Chiefs and Brumbies win Super Rugby Pacific openers

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — The Hamilton-based Chiefs rallied from 10-0 down after 20 minutes to beat the defending champion Crusaders 31-10 Friday and pull off the first upset of the Super Rugby Pacific season in the opening match.

In the late match at Sydney, the ACT Brumbies beat the New South Wales Waratahs 31-25. It was the Brumbies' 10th consecutive win over the Waratahs.

Center David Havili scored the first try of the season in the 20th minute and the conversion which followed a penalty by Richie Mo’unga gave the Crusaders a 10-0 lead in front of a large home crowd at Christchurch.

The Chiefs were able to stay in a mostly scrappy match and had cut the lead to 10-7 at halftime with a try to lock Brodie Retallick.

Second-half tries to captain Sam Cane, center Alex Nankivell and replacement Cortez Ratima put the Chiefs ahead 31-10 after 70 minutes while the Crusaders mostly were locked in their own half or contained by the Chiefs’ defense.

New rules applied this season to speed up the game produced a faster game, though often at the expense of structure and the Chiefs probably adapted more quickly than the Crusaders.

Pressure to use the ball quickly from rucks probably helped the more spontaneous Chiefs more than the Crusaders, who were forced to make a large number of tackles in the second half and missed too many as they were outscored 24-0.

“I thought we hung in there really well in the first half when we put ourselves under a bit of pressure,” Cane said. “I thought in the second half we got a lot of that right.

“A lot of belief in this team. We feel like we’ve been building for a couple of years so it’s a good start to our season.”

The Chiefs grabbed the lead in the 49th minute with Cane’s try and made the lead 21-10 when Nankivell dived over in the 60th.

Ratima made an outstanding break from a scrum to score under the posts when the Crusaders were down to 14 men and flyhalf Damian McKenzie made all of his kicks to accentuate the Chiefs' advantage.

At Sydney, the Brumbies spoiled the Waratahs' return to their refurbished home stadium — it was their first match there in five years due to the renovations. Ryan Lonergan was the star for the Brumbies, scoring 16 of his side’s points, including the opening try.

Waratahs' 18-year-old winger Max Jorgensen scored two tries in his Super Rugby debut.

“P retty proud of myself, “ Jorgensen said. “I’m not usually the nervous type of person but today I was pretty nervous. ”

In matches Saturday to complete the first round, Moana Pasifika play Fijian Drua at Auckland and the Highlanders play the Blues at Dunedin, New Zealand. Also, the Queensland Reds take on the Hurricanes at Townsville, Australia, and the Western Force host the Melbourne Rebels at Perth, Western Australia.


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