July 5, 2020 / 5:53 AM / a month ago

Rugby-Hurricanes fight off red card to likely end Chiefs title hopes

WELLINGTON, July 5 (Reuters) - The Wellington Hurricanes virtually ended the Waikato Chiefs’ Super Rugby Aotearoa title ambitions with a 25-18 victory on Sunday, despite playing almost the entire second half of their clash in Hamilton with 14 men.

Hurricanes lock Scott Scrafton was given a yellow card by referee Ben O’Keeffe after a succession of penalties early in the second half, then received a second just after he returned to the field.

O’Keeffe also awarded the home side a penalty try for Scrafton’s tackle of Damian McKenzie from an offside position.

Chiefs flanker Lachlan Boshier scored a try with three minutes remaining to give the home side a chance, but they were unable to breach a staunch Hurricanes defence again.

The Chiefs had been tipped to challenge for the Super Rugby title this year and were handily placed with four wins and sitting in fifth in the 15-team competition before it was postponed in March due to the novel coronavirus.

Warren Gatland’s side, however, have now lost all four of their games in Super Rugby Aotearoa and are out of contention for the title in the 10-week competition amongst just New Zealand sides.

The Hurricanes had lost their first two games but ran out to a 20-3 lead at halftime with Cobus Van Wyk scoring an early try, while Du’Plessis Kirifi also crossed and Jordie Barrett landed a penalty from almost 60 metres just before the break.

McKenzie slotted his second penalty shortly after the restart but the home side were unable to capitalise when Scrafton received his first yellow card.

Instead Van Wyk added his second try while Scrafton was sitting on the sidelines to give the Hurricanes a 25-6 lead with about 20 minutes remaining.

The lock returned and then received a second yellow, but the Chiefs did not threaten again until Boshier crossed.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by William Mallard

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