Hurricanes upset Crusaders
Blade Thomson is tackled by Andy Ellis (Getty Images)
Christchurch - The Hurricanes defeated the Crusaders 29-26 on Friday in a see-sawing match played at blistering pace between the New Zealand rivals.
The Hurricanes scored four tries to three to earn just their second win of the Super Rugby season and leave the Crusaders at the bottom of the New Zealand conference.
Left wing Johnny McNicholl managed two first-half tries for the home team but it was a wonder try from Alapati Leiua that settled the match, with the ‘Canes right wing shrugging off five tacklers as he ran almost the length of the field to score in the dying stages.
The Hurricanes attacked from the outset and the pressure paid off with a try to Faifili Levave in the first 10 minutes.
The flank was in the right place at the right time when Nafi Tuitavake spilled the ball under pressure from Julian Savea, pouncing on the mistake and racing to the tryline.
TJ Perenara added a second five-pointer when he left the Crusaders defence standing a few minutes later, with Beauden Barrett slotting the conversion to make it 17-3.
The Crusaders clawed their way back into the match when McNicholl gathered Andy Ellis' pin-point kick and touched down between the posts.
McNicholl then scored a second after a patient build up from the Crusaders and a penalty to Tom Taylor gave the home team an 18-17 lead at half-time.
The Hurricanes regained the advantage straight after the restart when Julian Savea snatched a loose pass then chased his own chip kick for a try.
The Crusaders hit back through Colin Slade, who was set up by Tom Taylor after a sloppy Hurricanes line-out.
Leiua then sliced through the Crusaders to give the Hurricanes a three-point buffer that proved decisive.
The Hurricanes scored four tries and picked up a full-house of five points for their victory.
They jumped to second in the New Zealand conference and eighth in the overall standings.
The Crusaders picked up a single point for losing by seven or fewer points, and are languishing in 11th spot overall.
In next weekend's Round 8 action the Hurricanes host the Bulls (Saturday, April 5 at 08:35) while the Crusaders travel to Johannesburg to face the Lions (Saturday, March 5 at 17:05).
Tries: Johnny McNicholl (2), Colin Slade
Conversion: Tom Taylor
Penalties: Taylor (3)
Tries: Faifili Levave, TJ Perenara, Julian Savea, Alapati Leiua
Conversions: Beauden Barrett (3)
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Nafi Tuitavake, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Daniel Lienert Brown, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Mitch Drummond, 22 Kieron Fonotia, 23 Nemani Nadolo
15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks
Substitutes: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Chris Eves, 18 John Schwalger, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Matt Proctor, 23 Marty Banks