BRISBANE - The Queensland Reds rued a Crusaders scrummaging demolition, clutch goalkicking misses and a lop-sided penalty count as a rare Christchurch upset slipped through their fingers yesterday.
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie was left to lament a big one that got away as the Crusaders exacted some revenge for last year's Super Rugby final defeat with a gripping 15-11 win.
It leaves the defending champions nine points behind the Brumbies on the Australian conference and makes next Sunday's clash with the table-topping Chiefs a must-win encounter.
SYDNEY- Mitchell Pearce has continued his confident form ahead of this month's State of Origin series as Sydney Roosters climbed into a top-eight spot on the NRL ladder thanks to a 24-6 win over Newcastle.
The NSW halfback scored one of his side's four tries and played a part in their three others to put a disappointing Knights to the sword at Allianz Stadium.
SYDNEY - A fine defensive effort from Manly fullback Brett Stewart helped the Sea Eagles to a 18-12 NRL victory over Canberra at Brookvale Oval yesterday.
The Manly fullback won a points decision over one of his rivals for the NSW State of Origin spot, Josh Dugan.
Stewart repelled several attacking raids to deny Canberra with trysaving tackles on Shaun Fensom, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Blake Ferguson.
Down and out
LOS ANGELES - On last-second Saturday, the Dallas Mavericks spent their last day as defending champions.
The Mavericks were swept in a best-of-seven playoff series for the first time in franchise history on Saturday night, wasting a 13-point fourth-quarter lead in a 103-97 loss to the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder that ended their one-year reign atop the NBA.
Pacers up 3-1
ORLANDO - The Indiana Pacers squandered a big fourth-quarter lead but held on for a 101-99 over-time win over the Orlando Magic on Saturday in their NBA first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
The Pacers took a 3-1 lead in the best of-seven series and will try to book their second-round berth when they host game five on Tuesday in Indianapolis.
LAS VEGAS - Undefeated Floyd Mayweather won the World Boxing Association super welterweight title with a unanimous points decision over Miguel Cotto yesterday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The American, who stepped up in weight to fight Cotto, used his superior hand speed and solid defence to take the fight on all three judges' scorecards after 12 rounds, in what will go down as one of his toughest fights.
LAS VEGAS, Nevada - Rising Mexican star Saul "Canelo" Alvarez beat Shane Mosley to retain his World Boxing Council super welterweight title yesterday at the MGM Grand hotel and casino.
The 21-year-old Alvarez defended his title for the fourth consecutive time, winning by unanimous decision and saying the triumph over the aging US great was the start of a new phase in his career.
KAKAMIGAHARA - South Africa grabbed the last ticket to the London Olympics men's hockey when they defeated hosts Japan 2-1 in the final qualifying tournament yesterday.
It will be South Africa's third straight appearance in the Olympics and fourth overall after finishing in 10th place in 2004 and 12th in 2008.
KINGSTON, May 5 AFP - Double world record-holder Usain Bolt shook off two false starts to open his 2012 season with a world-leading 9.82 seconds to win the 100m at the Jamaica International Invitational yesterday.
Bolt, running his first individual 100m of the season, looked in control from the start as he posted an easy victory over compatriots Michael Frater (10.0) and Lerone Clarke (10.03).
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina - Geoff Ogilvy roared into contention at the US PGA Tour's Wells Fargo Championship as he joined fellow Australian John Senden four shots behind leader Webb Simpson.
Ogilvy's seven-under-par 65 was the lowest score of yesterday's third round and left him tied eighth alongside Senden and American George McNeill going into the final day.
KOLKATA, India - Australian allrounder Shane Watson sparked Rajasthan Royals to a 43-run win over Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League.
Watson blasted 36 off just 17 balls with two sixes and four fours as Rajasthan scored a challenging 6-177 after winning the toss in Mohali.
He then produced a bowling spell of 2-22, which included the wicket of in-form opener Mandeep Singh, to help restrict Punjab to 8-134.
MADRID - Barcelona star Lionel Messi scored all four goals in a 4-0 rout of Espanyol to bring up his half century in La Liga and take his total goals tally for the season to a record-breaking 72 yesterday.
In what was Pep Guardiola's last home match in charge at the Nou Camp, Messi made sure there was a happy ending to what was an emotional night for the home fans.
MADRID - US Open champion Samantha Stosur served almost impeccably to survive a two-and-a-half-hour first-round scare at the Madrid Masters.
Australia's fifth seed won 16 of her 17 service games, hit five aces and saved six break points to progress with a tough 7-5 4-6 7-6 (7-5) defeat of Croatian Petra Martic.