Hurricanes 31-22 Crusaders: Super Rugby champions win in Wellington
Last Updated: 15/07/17 12:21pm
The Hurricanes shattered the Crusaders' hopes of a flawless Super Rugby season with a thrilling 31-22 win in Wellington.
The Crusaders went into their final regular season fixture seeking a 15th successive victory but paid the price for poor discipline as the defending champions ran in four tries to two.
The loss ended the Crusaders' hopes of becoming the first side to record a perfect regular season since their class of 2002 achieved the feat.
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The result gives South Africa's Lions the chance to overtake the Crusaders at the top of the table if they beat the Sharks in Durban, live on Sky Sports 1 HD on Saturday from 4.15pm.
It also means the Hurricanes will play the Brumbies next week, rather than facing a gruelling trip to South Africa against the Stormers.
The Crusaders made a perfect start with a third-minute try from Seta Tamanivalu after a quick tap penalty caught the Hurricanes defence off guard.
He had his second 10 minutes later when Kieran Read passed to him on the wing, catching the ball awkwardly but evading a tackler to dive into the corner.
The Hurricanes enjoyed long periods of possession and Ngani Laumape eventually battered his way through the Crusaders' line to set up a try for Jordie Barrett.
The hosts trailed 12-7 at the break but took the lead four minutes after the restart through a Julian Savea try.
Fly-half Otere Black sent a high crossfield kick to the sideline and Savea batted the ball backwards and then scooped it up to cross for the five-pointer.
Read set up the Crusaders' second try when his pass found Israel Dagg, who sidestepped Jordie Barrett.
But the Hurricanes finished strongly and regained the lead with tries to Wes Goosen and Vaea Fifita, making it 28-22 to the home side with 10 minutes remaining.
Jordie Barrett kicked a 78th-minute penalty to secure victory and deny the Crusaders a losing bonus point.