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<hash>Hurricanes</hash> upset Crusaders at home

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Saturday, June 30, 2012    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

The result set the cat among the pigeons in the playoffs race, keeping the Hurricanes in the hunt while putting the pressure on for the Crusaders when they meet the competiton-leading Chiefs in Hamilton next week.

However, the defensive effort of the Hurricanes matched all the Crusaders could throw at them, and a vital effort with two minutes remaining to hold lock Sam Whitelock up in a maul typified the resolve of the visitors.

But in the resulting scrum the Crusaders blew the Hurricanes apart and a penalty resulted for Tyler Blyendaal to attempt the goal only to fall just short.

Just when the Hurricanes had taken the lead 23-22 with seven minutes remaining, it was the match centurion on the night prop Wyatt Crockett who charged through the midfield when the Hurricanes failed to control a lineout. He thundered toward the goal-line and it was the Hurricanes who infringed but first five-eighths Tom Taylor was unable to convert from wide out.

Despite a lineout that was little short of dysfunctional the Hurricanes were in the contest all the way, courtesy of two tries to centre and captain Conrad Smith, tries that lifted the season tally to 55, a franchise record for the side.

But the third quarter was vital for the home team to put their stamp on the game. Down 16-17 at halftime, the Crusaders were gifted a 41st minute penalty goal to first five-eighths Tom Taylor when players made the basic error of not staying behind the kicker first five-eighths Beauden Barrett.

Another penalty in the 52nd minute took the Crusaders out to 22-17 and the pressure went on the Hurricanes to avoid the home team blowing the score out.

However, the Hurricanes effort was notable for the chances that were made in spite of all the self-inflicted problems they were incurring. The power of the Crusaders scrum also took its toll but in a situation reflective of the night, a 65th minute penalty goal to Barrett brought the score back to 22-20.

It seemed wing Zac Guildford had given his side the lift they needed when he raced 60m to score in the 36th minute, but in typical fashion the visitors launched another sortie into the Crusaders 22m area and it was Smith who received the ball on the blindside to get across in the 38th minute and Barrett landed the conversion to regain the lead for his side.

The Crusaders were unable to subdue the lively Hurricanes team who overcome some worrying lapses in lineout throwing to lead the home team 10-9 before Guildford beat the tackles of Barrett and fullback Andre Taylor to race in for his try.

Taylor landed penalty goals in the seventh and 10th minutes to give the home team a 6-0 lead which looked likely to grow as the Crusaders mounted several promising attacking raids through some deft breaks by second five-eighths Ryan Crotty and centre Robbie Fruean.

The Hurricanes got on the scoreboard in the 13th minute courtesy of Barrett's goal-kicking boot.

That seemed to lift the Hurricanes and Taylor featured twice in the move leading to Smith's first try. Taylor joined the line at speed, chipped ahead to regain the ball and set his pack on the move. In the second phase he took the gap which opened the defence up and while there was some doubt about wing Julian Savea's position as the try was scored, it was Smith who touched down.

Barrett had a stylish game with one superb break that only failed to yield a try because he lacked support close to the goal-line. No.8 Brad Shields also demonstrated maturing class in the loose.

McCaw had a big game in the loose and while the Crusaders backs looked the more likely to break through they found the Hurricanes defences all but impenetrable.

Scorers:

Crusaders 22 (Zac Guildford try; Tom Taylor con, 5 pen) Hurricanes 23 (Conrad Smith 2 tries; Beauden Barrett 2 con, 3 pen). HT: 16-17