The Hurricanes picked up their first victory of the Super Rugby season after coming from behind to beat the Crusaders 29-28 on Friday.
The Hurricanes picked up their first victory of the Super Rugby season after coming from behind to beat the Crusaders 29-28 at Westpac Stadium.
It had looked like being the Canterbury side's day when Dan Carter converted his own try on the hour, making it 19-28. But an intercept try from Alapati Leiua and the boot of Beauden Barrett edged the 'Canes ahead with seven minutes left.
Victory moves the Hurricanes off the bottom of the New Zealand conference, with the Highlanders now occupying the basement spot ahead of their home fixture with the Cheetahs on Saturday.
The star player for the Hurricanes was Julian Savea, whose second-half try saw him bump off Tom Marshall before Israel Dagg was on the receiving end of a Jonah Lomu-Mike Catt-esque score. Meanwhile, Barrett was faultless with the boot as he knocked over seven kicks from seven.
However, it was the Crusaders who began the game the stronger when inside centre Ryan Crotty skipped through three tacklers from 25 metres out to make it 3-7 with Carter's successful conversion after Barrett had earlier opened the scoring.
The 'Canes, who looked to be struggling early on, found their feet though and a further three penalty goals from their fly-half pushed them into a 12-7 advantage going into half-time.
Upon the turnaround things came to life as first Corey Flynn barged his way over to edge the Crusaders back in front before Dagg's long-range score extended the lead. That preceded Savea's moment of magic though in a spell that brought the Westpac Stadium to its feet.
It was now 19-21 to the Crusaders with 55 minutes played and when Carter hacked the ball into the in-goal area before grounding, the lead looked comfortable for the visitors at 19-28.
But never write off these Hurricanes – as they showed in 2012 – with replacement Adam Whitelock's wayward pass close to halfway being snapped up by wing Alapati Leiua who raced under the posts. The successful conversion made it 29-28 which was how the game ended following an intelligent finish from the home side. The Crusaders are now 0 from 2.
Tries: Savea, Leiua
Con: Barrett 2
Pen: Barrett 5
Tries: Crotty, Flynn, Dagg, Carter
Con: Carter 4
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Ben May, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 James Marshall, 22 Reynold Lee-Lo.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tom Taylor, 22 Adam Whitelock.
Date: Friday, March 8
Kick-off: 19:35 (06:35 GMT)
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
Television match official: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)