Super Rugby: Crusaders cement top spot, Rebels' play-off hopes dented
Last Updated: 06/07/18 2:46pm
The Crusaders cemented top spot with a win over the Highlanders, while the Rebels' play-off hopes were dented in Brisbane...
Crusaders 45-22 Highlanders
Winger George Bridge scored two tries as the Crusaders sealed the top spot throughout the play-offs with victory over the Highlanders to celebrate Wyatt Crockett's 200th-match milestone.
David Havili, Scott Barrett and Richie Mo'unga all crossed for the Crusaders in the highly entertaining encounter, which moved them to 58 points and means all of their play-off matches, including the final if they make it, will be at home.
The Crusaders also received a massive boost ahead of the knock-outs with All Blacks captain Kieran Read returning after back surgery last year and putting in some solid hits and bruising runs before he was replaced in the 48th minute.
Tyrel Lomax, Ben Smith and Waisake Naholo all crossed for the visitors, who in reality did not deserve to lose by as much as they did but just ran into a Crusaders side marching ominously towards a likely ninth title.
Reds 37-23 Rebels
Full-back Jono Lance slotted two late penalties and added a converted try as the Reds dented the Rebels' hopes of clinching the Australian conference title in Brisbane.
The Rebels have 35 competition points, four behind the Australian-conference-leading Waratahs, and are still in the hunt for the play-offs but have a tenuous hold on the eighth and final position with South Africa's Sharks on 32 and the Brumbies on 29 and both with two games remaining.
The Reds' scrum was impressive, earning a penalty try and setting up winger Filipo Daugunu's five-pointer late in the first half, while Izack Rodda charged down a clearing kick from Jack Maddocks.
Flanker Angus Cottrell and Maddocks scored first half-tries for the Rebels, who face the Highlanders next week while the Waratahs play the improving Sunwolves in Sydney on Saturday and then finish against the Brumbies.