Super Rugby Notebook, Apr 15: Dagg makes sensational return, Barrett stars


Israel Dagg made an emphatic return from injury by running in two tries as Crusaders breezed to a comfortable 32-15 Super Rugby bonus-point victory over Jaguares in Christchurch.

Having missed out on a place in New Zealand's squad for the Rugby World Cup last year following a thigh injury, Dagg wasted no time in putting his name back in the international frame with a scintillating display on his comeback from shoulder surgery.

The full-back sent Andrew Ellis over for the opening try with a neat pass, before getting his first of the night two minutes after Joaquin Tuculet was shown a yellow card for going off his feet at the ruck.

Richie Mo'unga ripped the ball from Jeronimo De La Fuente after Ellis' kick to coast in for their third try and he added a penalty for a 22-3 lead at half-time.

Facundo Isa snuck in around the outside of the maul to touch down for Jaguares after the restart, but Kieran Read got a score back for Crusaders before Dagg produced a moment of individual brilliance.

The 27-year-old darted through a narrow gap in the visitors' defence, showing strength to beat three tacklers before an excellent turn of pace enable him to dive over in the corner.

Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias scored a consolation try for Jaguares, but Crusaders had done more than enough to make it six wins in a row. 



Crusaders 32-15 Jaguares

Todd Blackadder's team never looked under real pressure at the AMI Stadium, with Jaguares lacking coherency in attack and failing to make the most of their possession in advanced areas. Dagg played a role in the opening try and went on to score two of his own in an indomitable display.

Melbourne Rebels 13-38 Hurricanes

Beauden Barrett played a starring role as Hurricanes recorded a fifth successive Super Rugby win against Melbourne Rebels. The New Zealand fly-half scored two tries and played an influential role in a further pair, with the bonus point secured before half-time.

Cheetahs 92-17 Sunwolves

A whopping 14 tries for Cheetahs at Toyota Stadium, including hat-tricks for Sergeal Petersen and Paul Schoeman, inflicted Sunwolves' heaviest defeat of their maiden season. The Japanese side had taken an early lead through Tusi Pisi's penalty, but the hosts came back in devastating fashion to end a run of six successive home losses.



When Barrett intercepted Reece Hodge's pass to run in his first try of the night, he made it a two-score game in Hurricanes' favour, and the Rebels never looked like finding a route back. With the score at 14-8, the fly-half's electric pace enable him to surge beneath the posts uncontested en route to an 18-point haul.

Despite an early setback, Torsten van Jaarsveld drove over following a line-out at the Sunwolves' 10-metre line and it turned the tide in Cheetahs' favour. The South African's went on to score a further 13 tries in a match that will live long in the memory.



"I was real nervous. I had some food at lunchtime but at 3:30pm I couldn't really eat. I was chomping at the bit, just to get out there. It was a perfect day to play footy, I just really enjoyed it," said Dagg following his triumphant return to the Crusaders line-up.

Barrett was pleased with the team performance from Hurricanes and believes they are progressing impressively: "It was nice to score the amount of points we did. It's another step in the right direction. Our shape's pretty good and when our intent and attitude's there and we can build phases, we look good."



Hurricanes are just four points adrift of Australasian Group leaders Chiefs, while the Rebels remain joint-top with Brumbies in the Australian Conference.

Crusaders moved to within two points of Chiefs in the New Zealand Conference, while Sunwolves remain bottom of the South African Group as Cheetahs closed the gap to Bulls in the Africa 1 Conference to seven points.