Crusaders 30-26 Hurricanes: Sevu Reece doubles up as hosts hold on to reach Super Rugby final
Last Updated: 29/06/19 11:37am
Sevu Reece ran in two tries as the Crusaders held off the Hurricanes to book their place in the Super Rugby final with a 30-26 win.
The defending champions will host Argentina's Jaguares in next weekend, and continued their quest for a 10th title and their third in consecutive years.
Winger Reece scored his 14th and 15th tries of the season for the hosts in Christchurch, and fly-half Richie Mo'unga scored a try and kicked six goals for 20 points to propel his side into the final for the 14th time.
The Crusaders were dominant early in the first half Saturday, taking a 13-0 lead as the Hurricanes squandered possession with thoughtless kicking. But when the Hurricanes held onto the ball and attacked the defensive line the match turned into a thrilling exhibition of tit-for-tat scoring.
The Hurricanes cut the Crusaders' lead to 13-7 at half time and matched them try for try through the second half but never held the lead, closing within one point without bridging the gap.
The match ended in controversy when Australian referee Nic Berry called a knock-on when the Hurricanes were hot on attack. The ball had been knocked on by the Crusaders and the call took away the Hurricanes' last scoring chance.
The Crusaders took an early lead when Reece scored a brilliant opening try. Full-back David Havili won the ball in the air and centre Ryan Crotty put in a cross-kick for Reece, who was unguarded on the right wing. A conversion and two penalties by Mo'unga gave the Crusaders a 13-0 lead.
When the Hurricanes finally attacked with ball in hand they created a try for Ngani Laumape just before the break which kept them in the match.
The Hurricanes scored through winger Ben Lam immediately after the re-start, but fly-half Beauden Barrett missed a conversion which would have given his team the lead.
Barrett was guilty of kicking the ball away early, but turned the game around for the Hurricanes when he ran at the defence in the second half.
The Crusaders quickly answered Lam's try with a try to Mo'unga, opening an eight-point lead. Laumape's second try cut the lead again to a single point.
Reece's second try, created by superb passing among the Cruaders' back row of Kieran Read, Matt Todd and Jordan Taufua, again made the lead eight points.
Hurricanes scrum-half TJ Perenara, in a record 127th appearance for the franchise, reached out to score a try in the 61st minute which kept hearts racing inside the final quarter.
The visitors attacked frequently in the last few minutes without managing the vital breakthrough and at full time it was the Crusaders celebrating yet another final appearance.