The Hurricanes ground out a 16-9 win over the Crusaders to put themselves back into play-off contention. BRENTON CHELIN reports.
It was hardly a classic, but that won't bother the Hurricanes one bit as they moved up to fifth on the overall log, albeit having played one game more than their rivals. For the Crusaders, it was a sloppy performance and despite a second-half surge they never truly looked like winning this one.
The Hurricanes made most of the play in the first half and were full value for their 11-3 lead at the break, having forced the Crusaders into a number of errors through some high-intensity rugby. Despite suffering the loss of Victor Vito and Alapati Leiua early on, they maintained the pressure on the Crusaders through an effective kicking game.
Beauden Barrett was superb once again, and he was well complemented by the effervescent TJ Perenara as the Hurricanes pinned the visitors in their own half. It was from a kick and chase that they would grab their first try. Having received the ball from a wayward Crusaders kick, Julian Savea booted the ball down field and set off after it. The Crusaders coughed the ball up under pressure and the ball was flung wide for Blade Thomspon to go over in the left corner.
The Crusaders responded early in the second half by throwing on Keiran Read and Dan Carter, following two Colin Slade penalties. The two All Blacks failed to make the required impact though in the face of the ferocious Hurricanes defence. The visitors had the ascendancy in the set pieces but were unable to make their advantage count.
The hosts effectively sealed the win with 10 minutes to go after the Crusaders turned the ball over once again while on attack. Corey Jane got the ball on the right wing and snuck a grubber in behind for Blade Thomspon to run onto. The lanky lock swooped onto the ball and raced away up the right touchline to grab his brace and seal the points for the Hurricanes.
Barrett was unable to slot the touchline conversion meaning the Crusaders made off with one point, which could prove pivotal come the end of the season.
Hurricanes – Tries: Blade Thomspson (2). Penalties: Beauden Barrett (2).
Crusaders – Penalties: Colin Slade (3).
Hurricanes – 15 Matt Proctor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Tim Bateman, 12 Alapati Leiua, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Blade Thomson, 4 Jeremy Thrush (c), 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Subs: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Brendon Edmonds, 19 James Broadhurst, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Hadleigh Parkes, 23 James Marshall.
Crusaders – 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ryan Crotty (c), 11 Nafi Tuitavake, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Kieran Read, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Dan Carter, 23 Rob Thompson.
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images