The Hurricanes beat the Crusaders 31-22 at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington and in doing so, ended the 14-game unbeaten run for the seven-times Super Rugby champions.
Jordie Barrett starred in place of his absent brother, who was pulled before kick-off for a virus. The 20-year-old scored his team’s first try, converted all the Canes’ four tries and added a late penalty, to put the result beyond their Kiwi opponents.
Seta Tamanivalu scored twice to give the visitors a 12-point lead, but the Crusaders fell away in the second-half; partly, because of ill-discipline; partly, down to their inability to kick on from the first 40 minutes.
The Christchurch men did pull away to a 14-22 lead, early in the third quarter, but they squandered the two-score lead with some poor play at the breakdown at crucial moments in the match.
Beauden Barrett was not the only player that the Canes had to do without. Vince Aso limped off during the warm ups. In comes Otere black at first five
In came Otere Black, at first five eight. Jordie Barrett moved to outside centre and Nehe Milner-Skudder went to fullback. Wes Goosen moves from the bench to right wing and Ben Lam comes in for Goosen on the bench
Wes Goosen moved from the bench to right wing and Ben Lam took Goosen’s place on the bench.
Usually, in professional sports, this sort of upheaval before a game, can only end in defeat, never mind, a top of the table clash between the best two teams in the tournament
This, after the Crusaders, held the Canes scoreless in their earlier season victory over the Wellington men.
The game started as if the Hurricanes had never met each other; within 14 minutes, Tamanivalu had helped himself to two tries and the visitors led by 12.
Jordie Barrett and Luomape looked like two players who had never met before, jumping out in defence staggered rows, letting the Crusaders dictate the backline play and tempo.
Somehow, and with help from referee Glen Jackson, who penalised the Crusaders at almost every ruck, the home team managed to regroup and mount a comeback.
On 32 minutes, and with Ngani Laumape being used as a battering ram, The younger Barrett and Ardie Savea were both involved in the build up to the try.
The go-forward by the hurricanes forwards saw Black delay his pass, at the gain line, and send Barrett away for another beautiful try. He converted his score and, suddenly, we had a game.
The Crusaders had conceded 10 penalties to three by the end of the half; you cannot win big games against quality opposition with that statistic, yet, they made to the break five points to the good.
Julian “the Bus” Savea scored after gathering a cross-kick, early in the second-half, to give his side a 14-12 lead and the momentum.
But, the most decorated team in Super Rugby would not give in so easily.
On 55 minutes, Israel Dagg’s fancy footwork saw the All Black fullback dance past Jordie Barrett with a wonderful step and score near the poles. Richie Mo’unga’s second conversion was good and the visitors led, again.
The re-taken lead lasted all but four minutes before Goosen crossed the whitewash. Skipper TJ Perenara broke blind from a 5-metre scrum, he drew George Bridge and put the winger away for an excellent first-phase try.
Barrett’s touchline conversion made it a one-point ball game with a quarter of the match remaining.
Soon after, Julian Savea started the play that led to Vaea Fifita’s try. The bus burst through the red tide after some smart lineout play by the Canes.
He popped to his brother Ardie, who continued his run up to the posts. The Hurricanes went wide to Laumape from Black. then, the flanker collected Laumape’s pass and was in for the score in the corner.
As former champions can only do, the Crusaders did not give up their attempt to win the game; they could not at six points down, but time was against them.
Jordie Barrett finished them off with a late penalty which inflicted the team in reds only defeat so far this season. Incredible, especially after all the pre-match upheaval.
Final Score: Hurricanes 31 (7) Crusaders 22 (12)
Tries – J. Barrett, J. Savea, Goosen, Fifita
Pen – J. Barrett
Con – J. Barrett (4)
Tries – Tamanivalu (2), Dagg
Pen – Mo’unga
Con – Mo’unga (2)
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 2: Angus Mabey
TMO: Glenn Newman
15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Wes Goosen 13 Jordie Barrett, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Otere black, 9 Thomas Perenara (captain), 8 Brad Shields, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Ben May
Replacements: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Reed Prinsep, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Cory Jane, 23 Ben Lam
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd (captain), 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Samuel Whitelock, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Sean Wainui