Canes hold off Saders

The Hurricanes beat the Crusaders 29-26 in Christchurch having led 17-3 midway through the first half.

Kieran Read's 100th game for the Crusaders came to a disappointingly early end, as he watched his side bring themselves back into the contest before Alapati Leiua struck with a stunning try to secure the bonus point for the Hurricanes.

A touch of fortune helped the visitors for their first try, with Julian Savea bumping off Read and his offload going back off a Crusaders' hand before Faifili Levave scooped up and powered his way over after 10 minutes. That try, added to Barrett's penalty, gave the Hurricanes a perfect 10-0 start.

Tom Taylor hit back with a penalty but the Crusaders were at risk of being cast adrift on the scoreboard when TJ Perenara went over for the Canes' second try after spotting a gap at the ruck.

The Crusaders needed an inspiration at 17-3 down and it came from Ryan Crotty. The captain, with Read now off the field with what appeared to be a shoulder injury, surged into the opposition 22 after Andy Ellis took a quick tap, before feeding wing Johnny McNicholl for the first of his two tries with a well-weighted grubber kick. McNicholl then completed an unlikely turnaround on the scoreboard when hard work from the pack up front made the space out wide for Slade's long pass to find the speedster.

Taylor's penalty before the break gave the Crusaders an 18-17 lead.

Savea's night wasn't all about power, the All Blacks winger producing a perfectly executed chip and chase for his try and the Hurricanes third to restore their lead at the beginning of the second half.

A solid 20-minute period of pressure from the Crusaders followed, with Colin Slade eventually darting over in the corner. Taylor then added his third penalty from a ruck infringement against the Hurricanes.

Barrett was unable to counter Taylor's penalty from long-range but the Hurricanes had threatened with ball in hand all game long, so when Barrett missed a far easier penalty from nearer the posts there was still no need for alarm.

Leiua's superb finish stemmed from getting round on the outside of McNicholl and fending off tacklers going through Israel Dagg to put the Hurricanes up 26-29. And so it stayed, Taylor missing a penalty attempt to bring the Crusaders back to parity.

Crusaders – Tries: Johnny McNicholl (2), Colin Slade. Conversion: Tom Taylor. Penalties: Taylor (3). 
Hurricanes – Tries: Faifili Levave, TJ Perenara, Julian Savea, Alapati Leiua. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (3). Penalty: Barrett.

Crusaders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Nafi Tuitavake, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Kieran Fonotia, 23 Nemani Nadolo.

Hurricanes – 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Subs: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Chris Eves, 18 John Schwalger, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Matt Proctor, 23 Marty Banks.

Photo: Martin Hunter/Getty Images

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