PUKEKOHE, New Zealand — Flyhalf Aaron Cruden scored a try among 19 points as the Waikato Chiefs beat the Lions 34-21 Saturday for their ninth straight win in rugby’s Super 15 to stay atop the table after 11 rounds.
South Africa’s Bulls had moved to the top of the standings after Friday’s 41-35, bonus-point win over the Melbourne Rebels, but the Chiefs reclaimed first place, also taking a bonus point from a four tries to three win over the Johannesburg-based Lions.
Cruden scored the opening try, had a hand in two others and kicked six goals from as many attempts to help extend the Chiefs’ winning streak which stretches back to the first weekend of the season.
Captain Craig Clarke, winger Lelia Masaga and scrumhalf Brendon Leonard also scored tries for the Chiefs, who played their first home match in 12 years at Pukekohe Stadium on the northern border of their region.
“It’s really awesome to come up to Pukekohe and see a crowd like this (12,000),” Clarke said. “This place is as much part of Chiefs country as Hamilton is, so it’s bloody good.”
In Australia, Fijian winger Henry Speight sidestepped three would-be tacklers to score a try a minute after the halftime siren sounded to help give the ACT Brumbies a 23-6 win over New South Wales and increase their first-place lead in Super 15 rugby’s Australia conference.
After 11 phases and with the scores level 6-6, Speight touched down with the only try of the first half. Andrew Smith added the second ACT try four minutes into the second, both converted by flyhalf Christian Lealiifano, who also kicked three penalties.
The Waratahs dominated possession in the first half and created several opportunities to score, but were thwarted by a solid Brumbies defense.
Cheetahs beat Force
In Johannesburg, the Cheetahs came back for a 17-13 win over Western Force, rebounding from their second-half slump against Otago last weekend and sending the Force to a fourth consecutive loss.
Captain Adriaan Strauss scored the Cheetahs’ only try at Free State Stadium, while flyhalf Sias Ebersohn and scrumhalf Tewis de Bruyn kicked 12 points between them to prevent a third straight home defeat for the South African team.
Sharks down Otago
In Durban, flyhalf Patrick Lambie scored all of the Sharks’ points in their 28-16 win over Otago Highlanders.
Springboks back Lambie went over for a try and kicked the conversion and seven out of seven penalties for the Sharks’ fifth win in 10 matches. The Highlanders slipped to 7-3.
Hosea Gear misjudged a high kick and Lambie pounced on the mistake for his 62nd-minute try, dribbling the ball ahead and touching down under the bar. Lambie’s score wrestled back control for the Sharks after they fell behind to a Kurt Baker try 10 minutes after halftime.
Mike Delany kicked 11 points for the Highlanders, who are second in the New Zealand conference and fifth overall. The Sharks are seventh, one place off the playoffs. — Agencies