The Crusaders ensured they will host a Super Rugby play-off next week thanks to a 25-17 win over the Hurricanes in Christchruch on Friday.
The Crusaders ensured they will host a play-off next week thanks to a 25-17 win over the Hurricanes in Christchruch on Friday.
The result means the Crusaders will finish fourth in the overall standings as they failed to bag the bonus point required to move above the Chiefs in the New Zealand conference.
The Crusaders outscored their visitors three tries to two but were pushed all the way in a high-paced game.
The teams scored a try apiece in the first half but Dan Carter's accuracy from the kicking tee ensured the Crusaders led 13-5 at half time.
The Hurricanes kept the pressure on in the second half though and the game went down to the wire with the sides separated by a single point for much of the final quarter.
The Crusaders were first to strike – against the run of play – when Zac Guildford sprinted almost the length of the field as he chased down his own kick to score.
Carter added the conversion but the Hurricanes struck back almost immediately as Victor Vito crashed over after an initial break from Matt Proctor. Tom Marshall's charge put huge pressure on Beauden Barrett, who missed with the conversion.
The Crusaders twice came close to crossing the whitewash again before the interval but were denied by the TMO on both occasions. Carter added a long-range penalty on the 25-minute mark and then another on the stroke of half time to give the Crusaders an eight-point lead at the end of a highly-entertaining first period.
The 'Canes started the second period with a bang as the impressive Brad Shields hit the line to pace to charge over but again Barrett's conversion attempt was wide to leave the visitors trailing at 13-10.
The Crusaders restored the eight-point gap when scrum-half Andy Ellis charged down his opposite number TJ Perenara to score in the corner, but this time Carter couldn't add the extras.
The Hurricanes ensured the game would go down to the wire however as the ball found Julian Savea on the overlap for a well-worked try and Andre Taylor landed the conversion to make it a one-point ball game with 15 minutes left to play.
A late try from Marshall would secure the win for the hosts however as the wing found his way into the corner after chasing his own kick ahead as the Crusaders counter-attacked.
Tries: Guildford, Ellis, Marshall
Cons: Carter 2
Pens: Carter 2
Tries: Vito, Shields, Savea
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Tom Donnelly, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Jimmy Tupou, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tyler Bleyendaal, 22 Telusa Veainu.
Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Reynold Lee-Lo, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben May, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Reggie Goodes, 17 John Schwalger, 18 Blade Thomson, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Ope Peleseuma, 22 Andre Taylor.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)