Hurricanes have edge over Bulls to reach Super Rugby semi-finals
By Sky Sports Rugby Union
Last Updated: 22/06/19 1:49pm
The Hurricanes overcame a penalty try, a player in the sin-bin and a stubborn visiting Bulls side to win their Super Rugby quarter-final 35-28 on Saturday.
Rookie winger Salesi Rayasi produced a mixed bag for the home side with two tries, but also a hand in three of the tries scored by the Bulls as the Hurricanes returned to the semi-finals for a fifth successive year.
Winger Cornal Hendricks crossed twice for the three-times champion visitors, who had been forced to head back to New Zealand just one week after returning home from a month-long road trip in Australasia.
Despite the rigours of travel, the Bulls jumped out to an 8-3 lead courtesy of full-back Warrick Gelant's 13th-minute try after Peter Umaga-Jensen rushed out of the defensive line and Jesse Kriel created an outside gap.
The Hurricanes hit back with 21 unanswered points from tries by scrum-half TJ Perenara and wingers Ben Lam and Rayasi, who had only just come onto the field as a replacement for the injured Wes Goosen.
Rayasi, however, gifted Hendricks his first try when he failed to tackle his opposite winger and the Bulls went into half time trailing only 24-14.
The 22-year-old Rayasi, whose father Filipe played for Wellington's provincial side in the 1990s, grabbed his second try soon after the break to give the home side a 29-15 lead with about half an hour remaining.
Rayasi blotted his copybook again when he was ruled to have deliberately knocked down a Bulls pass while they were on attack. Referee Nic Berry duly awarded a penalty try and sent him to the sin-bin.
Hendricks scored his second try while Rayasi was off the field as Bulls captain Handre Pollard directed play towards the short-handed left wing to make the score 32-28 with 20 minutes to go.
Full-back Jordi Barrett's second penalty, however, just about gave the Hurricanes the breathing room they needed, with Hendricks knocking-on in the last act of the game as the Bulls chased the converted try they needed to level the scores.
The win for the Hurricanes sets up a semi-final clash with defending Super Rugby champions the Crusaders in Christchurch.