Vodacom Super 14
Dramatic draw in Wellington
Wellington - All Black Dan Carter missed a conversion kick after the siren to leave the Crusaders with a 26-26 draw against the Hurricanes on Friday.MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
Flyhalf Carter's kick shaved the left post after the referee awarded a controversial try to hooker Ti'i Paulo that tied the scores in the 85th minute after a tense television review.
The Hurricanes, who battled back from an 18-point deficit in the first half, were left stunned, having carved out a five-point lead only to have it snatched away from them.
"I suppose we secured one extra point," Crusaders captain Richie McCaw said in a televised interview.
"It was a typical game of two halves. We started off pretty well but the Hurricanes were desperate, they played all the rugby in the second half and we only just hung in there."
It was a bitter-sweet evening for Carter, who joined former Australia captain Stirling Mortlock as the second player to surpass 1,000 Super rugby points after slotting a penalty goal early in the first half to give the Crusaders an 8-0 lead.
Carter kicked three out of four penalty goals on a gusty night at Westpac Stadium but missed his first and last conversion chances.
The Crusaders retained their grip on second place in the standings, but the draw left the Hurricanes, who had lost their previous four matches, all but out of the semi-final race.
Robbie Fruean had a hand in the Crusaders' early ascendancy, punching a hole in the defence in the opening minutes to set up a chain of passes that ended with flanker George Whitelock barging over the line on the right.
The outside centre then fed Zac Guildford after a quick pass from off the field to allow the winger to scamper over the line for the easiest of tries.
After being kept scoreless for nearly half an hour, inside centre Ma'a Nonu broke the drought for the Hurricanes, evading two tacklers and side-stepping a third.
Lock Jeremy Thrush crossed the line shortly after to peg the score back to 18-12.
All Black Piri Weepu threaded four penalty goals amid the swirling winds in a see-sawing second half, the last giving the Hurricanes a five-point lead.
The Crusaders attacked desperately in the dying moments, however, and were rewarded with a penalty in the last minute and a half.
Two line-outs and a scrum after the siren, Paulo emerged from a pile of bodies on the line to claim the try amid gasps from the crowd.Scorers:Hurricanes
Tries: Nonu, Thrush
Conversions: Ripia (2)
Penalties: Weepu (4)Crusaders
Tries: Reid, Guildford, Paolo
Penalties: Carter (3)
Conversions: Carter (1)TeamsHurricanes:
15. Cory Jane, 14. Andre Taylor, 13. Conrad Smith, 12. Ma’a Nonu, 11. Hosea Gear, 10. Willie Ripia, 9. Piri Weepu, 8. Rodney So’oialo, 7. Karl Lowe, 6. Victor Vito, 5. Michael Paterson, 4. Jeremy Thrush, 3. Neemia Tialata, 2. Andrew Hore (captain), 1. John Schwalger
Substitutes: 16. Dane Coles, 17. Anthony Perenise, 18. Bryn Evans, 19. Scott Waldrom, 20. Tyson Keats, 21. Aaron Cruden, 22. Jason KawauCrusaders:
15. Colin Slade, 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Robert Fruean, 12. Ryan Crotty, 11. Zac Guildford, 10. Dan Carter, 9. Andy Ellis, 8. Kieran Read, 7. George Whitelock, 6. Richie McCaw (captain), 5. Sam Whitelock, 4. Brad Thorn, 3. Owen Franks, 2. Ti’i Paulo, 1. Wyatt Crockett