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Hurricanes rally late for win

Fri, 08 Mar 2013 08:24
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Savea's brutal run turned the match
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The Hurricanes rallied late to record their first win of the season, beating the Crusaders 29-28 in a thrilling encounter in Wellington on Friday.

It may have required a late intercept, but the never-say-die attitude of the home team meant the seven-time Super Rugby champion Crusaders are still looking for their first win of the season.

The showed their full array of skills when they overcame a sloppy first half - trailing 7-12 at the break - to outscore the home team by four tries to two.

And while, after the break, the Crusaders raced into a 28-19 lead, the score of the match was Julian Savea's brutal run down the left wing for the Canes' first try - in which he matter-of-factly bumped Tom Marshall and Israel Dagg out the way.

At the end of the 80 minutes, the Franks brothers stood in conversation - Ben of the Hurricanes and Owen of the Crusaders, props against each other, Ben at loosehead and Owen at tighthead.

As they stood there Ben was smiling broadly, as well he might, but in fact it was a match when rugby smiled in Wellington.  It was a magnificent match -  of changing fortunes, a surprise ending, lots of energy and skill, and played in the sporting spirit.

It was also a game of many what-ifs - most notably the tiny knock-on that denied the Crusaders a fifth try and the intercept that gave the Hurricanes the winning try.

It was not a perfect game but - heavens - it was thrilling, gripping and left the sedentary watcher gasping for breath.

The greatest imperfection was the handling, especially the Hurricanes' handling which seemed to be throwing the game away for them. And the imperfection common to both sides was the messy scrumming - 13 scrums with 8 collapses, seven resets, two penalties and ending with an uncontested scrum as the Hurricanes lost their second hooker to injury.

That second injury - to Motu Matu’u - was a noble sacrifice. The Hurricanes were leading by a point with time running out but the Crusaders were attacking when the tough, bulky hooker stepped in to tackle Adam Whitelock who lost the ball forward which gave the Hurricanes an uncontested scrum and the Crusaders did not again get the ball back. It ended the game for them.

The Crusaders looked certainties to win as they had scored four tries to one with under 10 minutes to play, and they made a mistake and lost the match. In fact with 20 minutes to go they led 28-19 and soon after that had a try disallowed when the referee consulted the TMO who detected a tiny knock-on by Kieran Read in the lead-up to the try.

After that the Hurricanes scored 10 points.

It was a game that started with running. Dan Carter kicked off but the Hurricanes knocked on the Crusaders started running., Then the Hurricanes got the ball and they went running. In that running - a portent of things to come - Julian Savea bumped off Israel Dagg - the young wing put the 'best fullback in the world' back on his backside.

In that first half the Crusaders were penalised eight times - 8-2 and 11-3 in the match as a whole. The second penalty was against Matt Todd for roaming offside at the back of a line-out. Beauden Barrett goaled. 3-0 after six minutes.

Both sides were running with Savea involved in everything - attacking and defending and doing it with calm confidence.

From a ruck, TJ Perenara kicked as he rarely did. Read partly charged it and the Crusaders started counterattacking as Tom Marshall ran. The ball went left to Ryan Crotty. The sturdy inside centre ran through Barrett, past Eaton and then away from Tim Bateman getting beyond the partial tackle of Alapati Leiua to score near the posts. It was a splendid solo effort. 7-3 after 26 minutes.

Johnny McNicholl had a speedy run and George Whitelock made ground, but on each occasion passing was defective. And then Barrett kicked three penalties in four minutes - when  Matt Todd infringed at a tackle, George Whitelock played Bateman who did not have the ball and Carter infringed at a tackle. That made it 12-7 to the Hurricanes after 37 minutes, which was the half-time score.

The first half had been thrilling and yet the second half surpassed it.

After Dane Coles had been replaced, the Crusaders went on a sharp attack. Three penalty advantages later, Corey Flynn picked up and just got the ball down for the try. 14-12 after 46 minutes..

The Hurricanes attacked but the ball went loose off Bateman and Dagg flykicked the ball along way downfield. He led the chase for the ball and kicked it on and then kicked it into in-goal where he and Leiua dived for the ball. Dagg won. 21-12 after 51 minutes.

Then the Hurricanes got the ball to Savea on the left wing. Two Jonah Lomu 'sidesteps' later he scored a try as he bumped off first Tom Marshall and then, for the second time, Israel Dagg as he scored. 21-19 after 55 minutes.

But then the Crusaders eased further ahead. Barrett's hands set the ball loose and McNicholl picked up to dart ahead and start the Crusaders running down the left. Tom Taylor threw a low, wobbly ball inside to Carter who footed on and footed again, diving for the  ball in in-goal for the try. 28-19 with 20 minutes to play. That was the bonus-point try

Then came Todd's 'try' disallowed on the advice of the TMO.

Read was penalised at a tackle, and Barrett goaled. 28-22 with 10 minutes to play. The Hurricanes were within bonus-point range, it seemed. As it turned out they were within victory range.

Inside their half, with Dagg in the line, the Crusaders attacked going left and Adam Whitelock threw a long, high pass towards Dagg. Leiua plucked the ball out of the air and loped 43 metres to score at the posts. Barrett's conversion made it 29-28 with 7 minutes to play.

With five minutes to play Carter missed a drop attempt from in front.

The Crusaders went through 13 phases till Matu’u sailed into Luke Whitelock who lost the ball forward. Matu’u had to go off, injured in making the tackle and the last scrum of the match became uncontested. The Hurricanes kept the ball, going short left and right from tackles till Owen Franks was penalised for being offside, the final siren sounded and Barrett kicked out.

The Hurricanes got four points for the match, the Crusaders two.

Man of the Match: Our award goes to Julian Savea, an easy choice. He did more in one match than some wings do in a season. He ran, he tackled, he kicked high and caught his own kick, he covered and he scored that Lomu of a try.

The scorers:

For the Hurricanes:
Tries:
Savea, Leiua
Cons: Barrett 2
Pens: Barrett 5

For the Crusaders:
Tries:
Crotty, Flynn, Dagg, Carter
Cons: Carter 4

Teams:

Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Ben May, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 James Marshall, 22 Reynold Lee-Lo.

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tom Taylor, 22 Adam Whitelock.

Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

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