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Clinical Crusaders hold off Hurricanes

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The Crusaders beat the Hurricanes 24-13 in an arm-wrestle at a wet and slippery AMI Stadium, Christchurch.

The Crusaders’ eighth consecutive Super Rugby win extended their lead in the New Zealand Conference over the second-placed Hurricanes.

The game was played in heavy rain making handling tricky and points were at a premium.

The weather rendered the Hurricanes play-makers redundant.

Top-try scorer and battering ram Ben Lam was a bystander.

Barrett brothers, Beauden and Jordie, were starved of quick ball, possession and space in the attacking channels.

The Crusaders forwards dismantled the opposition’s pack, with all three tries coming from set-pieces and excellent work in the tight phases in the red zone.

Scott Barrett, Michael Alaalatoa and Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, all from close range, ended the Wellington side’s 10-match unbeaten run and inflicted their second defeat of the campaign.

The Crusaders had the better of territory and possession in the first-half but only took a one-point lead into the shed thanks to Scott Barrett’s 24th-minute try.

His two brothers, Jordie and Beauden, brought the Hurricanes back with a penalty-goal each.

The Wellington side’s ill-discipline proved costly as they conceded 10 points as a result of too many infringements.

Richie Mo’unga kicked an early second-half penalty and Michael Alaalatoa crashed over from close range to extend the team’s lead to 11.

Bedwell-Curtis went over on 65 minutes, from a five-metre scrum, after his team had spent 14 minutes inside the Canes 22.

Reed Prinsep scored under the posts, after a barn-storming midfield run saw off three tacklers, and gave his team some inconsequential scoreboard respectability.

This was a titanic clash between the two heavyweights of New Zealand Super Rugby.

Mo’unga missed an early shot at goal.

The weather hindered both teams from the outset, both sides making handling errors in contact or in trying to play with width.

The Hurricanes had a couple of opportunities inside the opening quarter, but some ill-discipline by Jordie Barrett proved costly.

The 21-year-old hit David Havili late while the fullback was attempting a clearance on his dead-ball line.

The away team would have had an attacking lineout inside the Crusaders 22, instead, Barrett conceded another penalty with a high tackle on George Bridge from the resulting set-piece.

Three minutes and 100 metres after Jordie Barrett’s initial infringement, the Saders opened the scoring.

Scott Barrett, the middle of the three on the field, crashed over from close range after a powerful driving maul and series of pick-and-drives.

Jordie Barrett did kick a monster 52-metre penalty, minutes’ later and older brother Beauden brought the scores to within a point, just before the break.

The home team cranked up the intensity after the interval.

Havili went close but was held up over the try-line by Julian Savea.

Mo’unga’s penalty increased the lead to four, soon afterwards.

Referee Angus Gardner spoke to Brad Shields about some of the high tackles by his team which was leading to multiple penalties.

The Crusaders punished the visitors from another driving maul when Alaalatoa went over from a pick-and-go.

In a game where the weather was dominating and points hard to come by, a small lead would be crucial.

Havili thought he had scored, but the TMO ruled for a knock on before he grounded.

The Hurricanes were under all sorts of pressure, being pushed back and held inside their 22.

The Crusaders had spent 14 minutes inside the Hurricanes 22, suffocating the visitors and tiring them out with all their scramble defending.

The pressure told, this time from a five-metre scrum move near the touchline.

Bryn Hall sold his open-side run at Ihaia West. Bedwell-Curtis picked up from the base of the scrum and broke blind.

The big No 8, at that distance, could not be stopped in a one-on-one, busting over for his side’s third – and game-winning – try.

Prinsep scored late on after taking Ardie Savea’s inside ball and running over and away from defenders.

It was all the Canes could muster as their winning run came to a crashing thud.

Crusaders versus Hurricanes video highlights.

Final score: Crusaders 24 (7) Hurricanes 13 (6)

Scorers

Crusaders
Tries – S. Barrett, Alaalatoa, Bedwell-Curtis
Pen – Mo’unga
Con – Mo’unga (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Hurricanes
Tries – Prinsep
Pen – J. Barrett, B. Barrett
Con – B. Barrett
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 1: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2: James Doleman
TMO: Aaron Paterson

Teams

Crusaders

15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 7 Matt Todd (captain), 6 Peter Samu, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett.

Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Chris King, 18 Donald Brighouse, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Ethan Blackadder, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Braydon Ennor.

Hurricanes

15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Jordie Barrett, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Thomas Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields (captain), 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Michael Fatialofa, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Toby Smith

Replacements: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Ben May, 19 Murray Douglas, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Jonah Lowe

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