Planet Rugby

Hurricanes win it at the death!

13th July 2012 07:22

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Conrad Smith Hurricanes celebrates the winning try v chiefs

Drama: The Hurricanes left it late

The Hurricanes needed a controversial try after the final hooter to claim a crucial 28-25 victory over the Chiefs in a pulsating clash at Westpac Stadium on Friday.

The result means that the Hurricanes can still make the play-offs while the Chiefs' second consecutive loss leaves the door open for the Stormers to finish the regular season at the summit of the overall standings.

If the South African side can beat the Rebels on Saturday, they will claim the top spot and with it a potential home final.

The game ended in dramatic fashion as Dane Coles crashed over with the last play of the game and television match official Mike Fraser decided to award the try despite a lack of clear evidence that the hooker had grounded the ball correctly in the middle of a pile of bodies.

It's a decision that will have massive repercussions for the play-offs as the 'Canes provisionally climb to fourth in the overall standings ahead of Saturday's six fixtures.

But perhaps it was a fitting end to a thrilling six-try fixture that deserved a big finish.

The dry conditions were ideal for running rugby but the strong, swirling wind made goal kicking a nightmare and both place kickers struggled at the tee.

Two tries from Julian Savea had helped the Hurricanes to a 18-15 lead at half time but an intercept try from Aaron Cruden around the hour mark looked to have snatched victory for the visitors.

Tawera Kerr-Barlow gave the Chiefs the early lead in controversial circumstances, darting over from five metres out, much to the dismay of the Hurricanes, who felt referee Jonathan Kaplan had obstructed Jason Eaton from tackling the scrum-half.

It didn't take long for the 'Canes to reply though and Savea rounded off a flowing team effort in the corner after Beauden Barrett had put the hosts on the scoreboard with a penalty. Conrad Smith was at the heart of the move, making the initial break before providing the perfect pass a few phases later.

Barrett's conversion attempt was off target but Savea was on hand to score the Hurricanes' second try on 22 minutes from close range. Barrett found the mark this time to give the men in yellow a 15-7 lead.

But the home side hit a major hurdle when Kaplan handed Ben May a yellow card for a late hit on Sonny Bill Williams.

Cruden pulled three points back before Ben Tameifuna bashed his way over the whitewash to level the scores at 15-all following a driving maul with just seconds left on May's sin-bin period.

Cruden was also struggling with the wind and couldn't slot the conversion but Barrett could split the uprights from long range after the hooter to give the hosts a three-point head start at the interval.

It took 17 minutes for the first points to be scored in the second period and they came in unexpected fashion as Cruden intercepted an inside pass from Barrett to cruise home under the sticks and leave himself a simple conversion.

Barrett needed two attempts to add three more points and narrow the gap to just one at 22-21 going into the final quarter but Cruden restored the lead with 15 minutes left to play.

And so it remained in the closing stages with the Hurricanes throwing the kitchen sink at the Chiefs defence in a desperate attempt to keep their season alive.

With time up, Coles dove into the carnage on the edge of the tryline. The debate is set to rage on for many moons over whether he grounded the ball or did so with an illegal second movement...

The 'Canes now face an anxious wait as the Crusaders, Bulls, Sharks and Reds can all still finish above them.

The scorers:

For Hurricanes:
Tries: Savea 2, Coles
Cons: Barrett 2
Pens: Barrett 3

For Chiefs:
Tries: Kerr-Barlow, Tameifuna, Cruden
Cons: Cruden 2
Pens: Cruden

Yellow card: May (Hurricanes - 28th min - late tackle)

Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Chris Eaton, 8 Victor Vito, 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 Brad Shields, 20 Frae Wilson, 21 Tusi Pisi, 22 Jayden Hayward.

Chiefs: 15 Andrew Horrell, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Robbie Robinson, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (c), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Sona Taumalolo, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 22 Tim Nanai-Williams.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)

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