Crusaders edge Reds in tight tussle

Dan Carter celebrated his return from injury with a try and two conversions to guide New Zealand’s Canterbury Crusaders to a 27-21 win over Australia’s Queensland Reds in the Super 14 at Brisbane on Saturday.

The Crusaders scored 19 unanswered points in the last 13 minutes after trailing 21-8 to ensure they finish the regular season in first place and secure a home semifinal.

Carter, playing his first match since spraining his ankle in March, started the game on the bench but immediately made his presence felt when he was called on in the second half.

The New Zealand Test flyhalf converted a try by replacement lock Ali Williams from near the touchline to put his team ahead with four minutes to go then dived over for a last-minute try in the left corner to seal the win.

The Crusaders, six times Super champions, made a brilliant start when wing Kade Poki scored the opening try after just eight minutes but did not cross again until lock Kieran Read burrowed his way over in the 67th to trigger the late comeback.

Queensland, who have won just three matches this season, led for most of the game despite being starved of possession and forced to defend deep inside their own territory.

Skipper James Horwill and wing Peter Hynes crossed in the first half to give the Reds a 14-8 lead at the break before flyhalf Quade Cooper scored shortly after the restart to push the margin out to 13 points.

The Reds continued to defend bravely despite losing Australia Test fullback Chris Latham to a shoulder injury in the first half but they ran out of steam in the last 15 minutes when wing Digby Ioane and scrumhalf Ben Lucas were sin-binned.—Reuters

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