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Hurricanes keep season alive

30th June 2012 07:19

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conrad smith richie mccaw crusaders v hurricanes

'Canes: Hit Crusaders with surprise win in Christchurch

The Hurricanes kept their Super Rugby play-off hopes alive after sneaking past the Crusaders 23-22 in Christchurch on Saturday.

In a nail-biting contest, the hosts had a chance to snatch victory at the death with a last-gasp penalty attempt.

However, Tyler Bleyendaal's effort had the direction but not the distance as the ball fell inches short, handing the Hurricanes a crucial victory that keeps them in the hunt for a finals berth after moving to 49 points.

The Hurricanes outscored their hosts two tries to one thanks to a Conrad Smith brace to lead their Kiwi rivals by one point (17-16) at the break.

But five-pointers dried up in the second half and it was left to Crusaders pivot Tom Taylor and Beauden Barrett to battle it out with the boot, with the latter nailing a penalty goal in the 74th minute to put his team in front and ultimately seal the win for the men in yellow.

The result now leaves the Crusaders (52) ten points behind the Chiefs (62) on the New Zealand standings with just two rounds remaining.

In an even first half, Tom Taylor put the Crusaders into a 6-0 lead courtesy of two penalties however the Hurricanes hit the front through Smith's first try set up by a trademark break from Andre Taylor.

The full-back collected his chip and chase, and then found himself with the ball five passes later after he was put into space by Julian Savea. Taylor was hauled down a few metres short, but Smith was on hand to take the pop pass and twist his way over the line for the score.

The Crusaders hit back with a superb 65m solo effort from winger Zac Guildford, who backed his pace to leave Taylor gasping as he stepped inside him for a sensational try.

However, the Hurricanes replied on the stroke of half-time through Smith's second touchdown after the skipper glided in typical fashion through a hole. Barrett's touchline conversion helped nudge the visitors ahead 17-16.

But the Hurricanes were their own worst enemy after the break as unforced errors crept in and they were lucky to only concede two Taylor penalties after the hosts had dominated territory and possession.

The visitors, who were distinctly second best at the set piece as well as in the disciplinary stakes, continued to play second fiddle to the Crusaders as the match entered the final quarter.

The Crusaders threw everything but the kitchen sink at their opponents, though miraculously the Hurricanes somehow stayed in touch and Barrett's two penalties ended up being decisive.

The scorers:

For Crusaders:
Tries: Guildford
Cons: Taylor
Pens: Taylor 5

For Hurricanes:
Tries: Smith 2
Cons: Barrett 2
Pens: Barrett 3

Crusaders: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Adam Whitelock, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Richie McCaw (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Owen Franks, 18 Tom Donnelly/Ross Kennedy, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tyler Bleyendaal, 22 Patrick Osborne.

Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Chris Eaton, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Reg Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Karl Lowe, 20 Frae Wilson, 21 Tusi Pisi, 22 Jayden Hayward.

Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)

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PosTeamPPts
1Sharks831
2Brumbies825
3Chiefs825
4Waratahs824
5Western Force823
6Crusaders822
7Hurricanes821
8Highlanders719
9Bulls919
10Lions916
11Blues816
12Reds816
13Melbourne Rebels816
14Stormers810
15Cheetahs99