Israel Folau becomes Super Rugby's top try-scorer
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Fullback Israel Folau became the top try-scorer in the history of Super Rugby on Saturday, although celebrations were muted as his New South Wales Waratahs lost 32-29 to the Auckland-based Blues.
Folau rose over the defense in the 24th minute to claim Bernard Foley's high cross-field kick and to touch down for the 60th time in his Super Rugby career, breaking the long-standing record of former Blues winger Doug Howlett.
The try began a strong rally by the Waratahs who had trailed 17-0 after 17 minutes. They closed within a point at 22-21 with Alex Newsome's try in the 55th minute but couldn't get past a tenacious Blues team which posted its fourth-straight win.
The 36-year-old former All Blacks center Ma'a Nonu was outstanding for the Blues, scoring their final try and providing the last past in two others.
Earlier winger Will Jordan scored two tries within three minutes in the second half as the Christchurch-based Crusaders rallied from 7-0 down at halftime to beat the ACT Brumbies 36-14.
The match was the Crusaders' first at home since the March 15 shootings at two mosques in Christchurch which left 50 people dead.
As a mark of respect to those victims, the nine-time champions dispensed with their traditional pre-match entertainment which features knights on horseback waving swords in an allusion to the Christian crusades of the middle ages. The Crusaders are under pressure to change their name and its associated symbolism.
For the first 40 minutes, Saturday's match looked like being a disappointing homecoming for the Crusaders. Neither side was able to take control of the match but the Brumbies scored the only points of the first half through a converted try to flyhalf and captain Christian Leali'ifano.
The Crusaders came out with more urgency in the second half and quickly scored three tries, two to the rising star Jordan and another to his fellow winger Sevu Reece to take charge of the match. Another try to replacement backrower Jordan Taufua gave them a bonus point and Reece completed a double with an intercept near the end.
The Brumbies scored the first and last tries of the match, finishing with a try to Tevita Kuridrani while the Crusaders added a late penalty to Brett Cameron.
"We just made too many mistakes (in the first half)," Crusaders captain Matt Todd said. "Discipline wasn't good enough and they were good. They held the ball, we gave away penalties and they were back in our corner.
"We knew at halftime it was going to be a battle. We prepared for it all week and we were confident if we kept our shape and if we could hold the ball we could get points and we did that in the second half."