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Joe Moody receives suspension for off-ball incident during Crusaders vs Waratahs

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For those in the Northern Hemisphere, Super Rugby is probably a bit of a mystery.

Sixteen top rugby franchises in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Argentina - plus a hybrid team based in both Tokyo and Singapore - compete in the fastest 15-aside tournament in the world.

It's fast, brutal, high-skilled, and unrelenting.

It begins in the Southern Hemisphere summer at the end of February and runs through until July - breaking for in international season in June.

Last year's winners and eight-time champions Crusaders currently lead the New Zealand conference, but their first half performance against visitors Sydney-based Waratahs was anything but champion-like.

Within 30 minutes of the kick-off, Canterbury's iconic Red n' Black's were down 29-nil to their Australian opponents. The Waratahs were unrelenting in attack and it followed an uncharacteristic period where the New Zealand franchise lacked intensity, dropped passes, and kicked away hard-won possession.

For that first half hour, they couldn't get their hands on the ball. 

The Waratahs' Israel Folau was imperious, and his teammates up front, dominant. .

Most observers didn't feel that the Crusaders would lose; they have an innate ability to dig deep and win when they're down, a determination earned last season when they won games they were chasing. 

Super Rugby Rd 12 - Crusaders v Waratahs

The resurgence began with All Black prop Joe Moody crossing for the home team's first try in the 35th minute. That sparkled a revival that saw the New Zealand team rack up 19 points in the final five minutes of the first half, ending the first dig down 29-19.

The Crusaders would go on to shut down the Waratahs in the second half and power through to a hard-fought 32-29 victory. 

However, it was Joe Moody's actions a moment before he scored his try, that had scribes reaching for their pads and armchair referees screaming at their TV screens.

As the Crusaders rolled with pace into the Waratahs 22, play broke left and Moody, ready at first receiver, waited for the ball. Play burst closer to the try line and as he ran a line of support, Moody checked the Waratahs centre Kurtley Beale with a cheap shot to the head. 

The raised elbow connected at speed to Beale's jaw - taking him out of play - but the action was missed by the referee and refereeing assistants, as well as the TMO. In fact, viewers and commentators alike failed to pick up Moody's indiscretion. It was only during replays that the foul play was detected.

Post-match, however, former Crusader and now Waratah's head coach Darryl Gibson was unable to hide his frustration at losing to the NZ franchise.

"A couple of decisions proved really costly - obviously the Joe Moody incident with the elbow, which the referees missed," he said. "In my book, it's an elbow to the head so I'm sure the powers that be are looking at that."

Any deliberate strike to the head is an automatic red card and had the act been picked up by match officials, the chances of a 14-man Crusaders overturning the deficit would have been remote. Particularly given how the Waratahs had played.

Super Rugby Rd 12 - Crusaders v Waratahs

Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper added: "We can stack points on quickly and play a really exciting brand of rugby and put a top team under pressure.

"We know what we're capable of and it's disappointing we let that one slip."

Following a disciplinary review, Joe Moody received a two-week ban, reduced from four weeks due to his previous clean record.

The Crusaders remain top of the NZ conference and sit atop the Super Rugby table after 11 games. 

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Topics:
Australia Rugby
South Africa Rugby
England Rugby
New Zeland Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup
Rugby Union
Rugby World Cup
Joe Moody

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