Hurricanes stay alive with Crusaders victory

The Hurricanes ensured that the final placings New Zealand Super Rugby conference will go down to the wire when they upset the Crusaders 22-23 in Christchurch.

The result keeps the Hurricanes alive for another two weeks of Super Rugby and hands the Chiefs the top spot in the New Zealand Super Rugby conference.

The result also has an impact on teams outside of the New Zealand Conference as it makes qualification difficult for the Sharks who play the Bulls at Lofus next week.

The Hurricanes have a bye next week and finish the regular season with a match against the Chiefs in Wellington.

The Crusaders have matches against the Chiefs next week in Waikato and the Western Force in Christchurch remaining.

The match went down to the wire as Hurricanes and All Blacks fly half Beauden Barrett kicked a 73rd-minute penalty to secure the fifth lead change of a seesawing match and give the victory.

Barrett’s opposite, Crusaders flyhalf Tom Taylor, kicked five penalties and a conversion for 17 points to give the Crusaders a 22-20 lead with 15 minutes remaining.

But Taylor missed his final shot at goal five minutes from fulltime and his replacement, Tyler Bleyendaal, missed a long-range chance in the last minute to allow the Hurricanes to hang on for a crucial win.

The victory was the Hurricane’s ninth win from 15 matches and the reversal of their loss to the Crusaders earlier this season.

Hurricanes captain and All Blacks center Conrad Smith scored two first-half tries and played a heroic role in defence as the Hurricanes turned around their 42-14 first-round loss to the Crusaders to post a rare win in Christchurch.

Smith scored in the 17th and 39th minutes to give the Hurricanes a 17-16 lead at halftime after an evenly contested first half.

The Crusaders emerged from the changing rooms determined to take control of the match in the second half and an improved territorial performance allowed Taylor to kick penalties that gave them a 22-17 lead after 55 minutes.

But Barrett, who made an outstanding All Blacks debut in last weekend’s third test against Ireland, kicked penalties in the 65th and 73rd minutes to wrest back the lead for the Hurricanes at 23-22.

Taylor then missed his final attempt, finishing with a 6-9 goalkicking record on the night, and Bleyendall missed a last-gasp attempt from halfway just as the fulltime siren sounded.

“It is pretty pleasing to see this after they put 40 points on us and hurt us pretty badly up home (earlier in the season),” Smith said.

“To come out and win down here, this team keeps going from strength to strength and it’s great to see.”

The Hurricanes came off a three-week layoff for the All Blacks’ mid-year tests against Ireland determined to sustain its challenge for a playoff place.

They played courageously, never allowing the Crusaders more than the six-point lead they held after winger Zac Guildford’s first-half try.

The Crusaders were without internationals Dan Carter, Kieran Read and Israel Dagg who all suffered injuries during New Zealand’s series against Ireland.

“I think we probably played at the wrong end of the field for a while,” Crusaders captain Richie McCaw said.

“We made mistakes, especially in that first half, particularly in our 22 and critically after we scored. It was just one of those games when we did some good things and we also did some dumb things.”

Final Score Crusaders 22 (16) Hurricanes 23 (17).


Tries – Z. Guildford
Pen – T. Taylor 5
Con – T. Taylor
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – C. Smith 2
Pen – B. Barrett 3
Con – B. Barrett 2
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Bryce Lawrence
Assistant Ref 1:

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