Wellington - The Hurricanes overcame a yellow card and a rampaging
Bulls second half to claim a 35-28 victory on Saturday and book a Super
Rugby semi-final date with the Crusaders.
As it happened: Hurricanes v Bulls
There were four tries apiece and the Hurricanes needed two penalties
by Jordie Barrett to keep their noses in front and make the final four.
It continued the dominance of the homeside in the playoffs after the
Crusaders beat the Highlanders and the Jaguares downed the Chiefs in the first two matches.
Replacement back Salesi Rayasi was the hero-turned-villain for the
Hurricanes with two tries as they shot out to a 29-14 lead before being
sent to the sin-bin which sparked a late Bulls revival.
"It was play-offs footy. The first half was good and then they came
back in the second half and it went down to the wire," a relieved 'Canes
captain Dane Coles said.
"There were a couple of big moments in that second half, obviously
the sin-binning. We dropped the ball and they scored points. The little
mistakes can have a massive effect."
Bulls captain Handre Pollard, said an indifferent first half cost his side.
"A couple of bounces didn't go our way and we let in a couple of soft
tries which cost us in the first half. But the fightback was unreal,"
The under-sized Hurricanes pack - conceding 25kg to the burly Bulls and dwarfed in the lineouts by the 2.01 metre Jason Jenkins and his 2.07m partner RG Snyman - held their own as
they steadily built a lead in the first half.
TJ Perenara, Ben Lam and Rayasi scored tries, all converted by
Beauden Barrett who also landed a penalty as the 'Canes turned 24-14
ahead with the Bulls points coming from tries to Warrick Gelant and
Cornel Hendricks, both converted by Handre Pollard.
But after Rayasi scored his second try just after the resumption, the
Bulls pack used their superior size to set up camp on the Hurricanes
They won a penalty try from a deliberate knockdown by Rayasi, which saw the 'Canes outside back sent to the sin-bin.
After Jordie Barrett kicked his first penalty, the Pretoria-based
Bulls - appearing in the knockout stages for the first time since 2013 - closed within four points when Hendricks crashed over for his second
Once Jordie Barrett kicked his second penalty, to create a
seven-point margin, the giant Snyman stole a Hurricane's lineout after
the final hooter sounded.
But the Bulls bid for a converted try to force the match into
overtime ended when Hendricks knocked the ball on a few metres short of
Tries: TJ Perenara, Ben Lam, Salesi Rayasi (2)
Conversions: Beauden Barrett (3)
Penalties: Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett (2)
Tries: Warrick Gelant, Cornal Hendricks (2), penalty try
Conversions: Handre Pollard (3)
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Ardie Savea 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeff To'omaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Toby Smith
Substitutes: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Fraser Armstrong, 18 Ben May/Alex Fidow, 19 Kane Le'aupepe, 20 Du'Plessis Kirifi, 21 Richard Judd/Finlay Christie, 22 James Marshall, 23 Salesi Rayasi
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Handre Pollard (captain), 9 Andre Warner, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Substitutes: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw