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Matt Todd © Getty Images

Crusaders outmuscle Hurricanes



Canterbury Crusaders outmuscled Wellington Hurricanes in a top-of-the-table Super Rugby clash Friday for a 24-13 win that puts them in pole position to qualify in top spot for the finals.

Meanwhile, Jaguares defeated Coastal Sharks 29-13 in Buenos Aires for a sixth straight win and Melbourne Rebels triumphed 40-13 at home to Sunwolves in other round 15 matches.

Crusaders scored three tries to one in driving rain, with the conditions forcing two of the competition's most potent attacking sides into an arm-wrestle.

"We knew what the conditions would be and we had a plan for it. Credit to the boys – they stuck to it and were disciplined," Crusaders captain Matt Todd said.

Hurricanes and Crusaders have traded the New Zealand conference lead all season, but the reigning champions' victory in Christchurch could prove decisive.

It snaps a 10-match winning streak for the Hurricanes and extends Crusaders' run to nine consecutive victories, putting them on 50 points to Hurricanes' 45.

"It wasn't pretty at times but we just did what we had to, looking after the ball and keeping the scoreboard ticking over," Todd said.

Hurricanes skipper Brad Shields said the Wellington team's season was far from over after only two losses in 12 matches.

"This could be a turning point for us, maybe it's something that we needed," he said.

"We'll go back to the drawing board and make sure we do better next week."

Scott Barrett made the breakthrough for Crusaders in the 23rd minute, forcing his way over from a lineout drive, with Richie Mo'unga adding the conversion.

Jordie Barrett hit back for the Hurricanes with a long-range penalty, then Beauden Barrett kicked another just before halftime to make it 7-6 to the home side at the break.

A Mo'unga penalty opened the second-half scoring and he converted tries by Michael Alaalatoa and Heiden Bedwell-Curtis as the hosts took control at 24-6.

A darting run from Reed Princep gave the Hurricanes a converted try to narrow the gap but it proved too late to trigger a comeback.

Ramiro Moyano scored a hat-trick and set up a try for fellow winger Bautista Delguy as Jaguares climbed three places to fifth in the combined standings.

The Argentine outfit, watched by the biggest crowd to attend a Super Rugby match in the South American city, are experiencing a dramatic turnaround.

Having lost five of seven matches early in the season, they won all four on a tour of Australasia followed by home victories against Northern Bulls and Sharks.

Trailing 17-0 after half an hour, Sharks scored just before halftime and a couple of second-half Robert du Preez penalties cut the gap to just four points.

The key score came nine minutes from time when Moyano broke from his own half and a perfectly timed pass sent Delguy over.

Jaguares star fly-half Nicolas Sanchez contributed nine points from the boot to go second in the points scorers' chart behind Du Preez.

Sharks skipper Ruan Botha was red-carded six minutes from time after his shoulder charge struck an Argentine head.

Rebels thrashed Sunwolves after leading 21-13 at halftime to move within one point of Australian conference leaders NSW Waratahs.

Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete grabbed a hat-trick and fellow winger Jack Maddocks scored twice as the Rebels ran in six tries to one against a depleted Japanese outfit.

Sunwolves rested 14 players from the team that beat Western Stormers in Hong Kong last week and their lack of cohesion showed as Rebels ran away with the match in the second half.

Rebels captain Adam Coleman said the plan to get the ball to the wingers worked perfectly.

"They're outstanding players and I think the key for us is to get them more ball and let them do their thing," he said.

Rebels have now won two matches in a row to put pressure on Waratahs, who play Waikato Chiefs in Hamilton Saturday.



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