AP–Seven-time champions the Crusaders beat the Hurricanes 35-18 in Super Rugby on Friday, keeping their slim playoffs hope alive and forcing the top-ranked Hurricanes to sweat for another week over the prospect of a home playoff in New Zealand.
All Blacks star Dan Carter returned to flyhalf and to form for the Crusaders, kicking six goals from seven attempts for 15 points.
Also Friday, the ACT Brumbies moved provisionally into first place in the Australian conference with a 22-16 win over the Pretoria, South Africa-based Bulls.
And South Africa’s Sharks eased a little of the pressure on them in a forgettable season, holding off a 14-man Melbourne Rebels 25-21 in the day’s late game. The Sharks led 10-0 early, and then 22-7 after prop Laurie Weeks’ red card for punching. In the end, the Durban-based team had to cling on at home against their fellow strugglers.
After playing recently at inside center, Carter returned to his favored flyhalf role to produce his season’s best performance for the Crusaders, while the Hurricanes produced their worst, losing for only the second time in 14 games.
The win improved the Crusaders’ record to 7-7 and means they can’t yet be counted out of playoffs contention, though they at least have to beat the Blues and ACT Brumbies over the next two weeks to avoid missing the post-season for the first time since 2001.