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Crusaders

FULL-TIME
35     18

Hurricanes

Super Rugby | Nelson
07:35 (GMT) | 29-05-2015
  • 81
Join us for more live coverage of Super Rugby as the Bulls take on the Brumbies next up in Canberra.
  • 80
The Hurricanes get held up over the line for a third time in a row, and that brings the game to FULL-TIME.
  • 79
Crusaders backline is offside from the scrum and Perenara takes it quickly. Again, the Hurricanes are held up over the try-line for a 5m scrum.
  • 77
Another penalty and another quick tap. The Hurricanes keep pushing the line but the defence is standing up. Hurricanes receive another penalty, and try force their way over the line through phases. But the Crusaders defence is not letting up. The home-side hold up the Canes over the line for a 5m scrum.
  • 74
McCaw secures the restart and Carter bangs a kick down field. The Hurricanes counter well as Nonu gets over the advantage line. The Hurricanes now up to the 22m of the Saders. After plenty of phases the Hurricanes are awarded a penalty, which Perenara takes quickly.
  • 71
Carter looking to keep his perfect record intact, but it just shaves the outside of the poles.
  • 70
Ellis is exhausting the short side from the scrum and Milner-Skudder reads it and intercepts. He sprints away but the defence is covering, Milner-Skudder jinks inside and beats 5 defenders and passes wide as the Hurricanes look to score in the corner. Rey Lee-Lo gets it wide but the defence is back to scramble. The Crusaders turn it over and run it out from their own 22m. Carter eventually puts a kick in for Nadolo to chase. Nonu makes a hash of it at the back and Nadolo scores.
  • 68
Hurricanes have set a good driving maul, and Perenara plays Marshall coming into the line. But the ball doesn't come out and the Crusaders get a scrum. Carter clears from the scrum and Nonu knocks it on the Hurricanes 10m.
  • 65
Black moves it wide off the scrum and Milner-Skudder puts a grubber through behind the Saders. The Crusaders consolidate in their 22m and Carter clears for touch. The Hurricanes spread to Nonu and Todd is penalised on the ground. Black kicks for the corner,
  • 63
Perry is penalised for scrumming in and Black's kick doesn't find touch. Carter returns the favour with a punt. Crusaders regather the ball but a pass to Freuan is lost forward. Scrum Canes.
  • 62
Hurricanes can't deliver in the line-outs and the Crusaders have a scrum on halfway. They get a left shoulder on the scrum and Ellis picks and plays Nadolo blind. Nadolo off-loads inside and the Crusaders swing it left. They knock on and the Hurricanes get a scrum on their 22m.
  • 58
Carter converts the kick.
  • 57
Crusaders launch an attack straight from the kick off. Nadolo straightens the line and shrugs off Ardie Saveas tackle and bursts into the 22m of the Hurricanes, he gives a great back-door offload to Todd who runs hard and momentum carries him over for a try.
  • 55
Black narrows the scoreline with a converted penalty.
  • 54
The Hurricanes win the line-out and pass wide to Milner-Skudder. He puts a grubber through and Nadolo collects at the back. Its a good chase from the Canes but the Saders secure the ball. Carter clears for touch and the Hurricanes have a line-out on halfway. They secure the ball and Nonu takes it up in midfield. Matt Todd is penalised for not supporting his body weight and Otere Black will have a shot at goal from 30m in front.
  • 52
Hurricanes win the line-out and swing wide. Marshall puts a territorial grubber kick through and the Crusaders have a line-out inside their own 22m. They secure the line-out and Ellis bangs a box-kick into touch.
  • 50
Line-out to the Crusaders after the restart, but Funnel can't find his man and the Hurricanes use the advantage and play as Savea carries well. The Saders are pinned for some illegal ruck play and Black kicks for touch to gain some metres.
  • 47
Carter keeps his radar and he converts his 4th kick for the night.
  • 46
Crusaders are right back in the 22m of the Hurrucanes as Fruean makes a hard run at the line. The Crusaders have a strung some phases together and Tuitavake finds some space on the wide right hand side of the field and he runs over for the try.
  • 45
Hurricanes set for a scrum on their 22m, and Taufua is penalised for no clear release on Shields as he picked up from the base. Hurricanes kick for touch.
  • 43
Black makes easy work from in front of the poles, and converts the kick.
  • 42
Hurricanes, from inside their own 22m, run it and Nonus puts a grubber through and Smith collects and puts a great pass through to Ardie Savea, he draws and passes to Milner-Skudder, he steps inside and passes back to Savea and he shows some pace to get away from Taylor for a try under the sticks.
  • 41
HALF-TIME: Crusaders flyhalf Dan Carter gets the second-half started.

Half Time

  • 40
The Hurricanes butcher the line-out again and Carter clears for touch. There is time for the line-out and the Canes secure it. However the away-side is penalised and Carter kicks it out to bring the game to half-time.
  • 38
The Hurricanes now capitalising on the extra man as they are running it from everywhere. Ardie Savea makes a good run for 30m, but he spills it forward and the Crusaders have a scrum. Nadolo takes it short off the scrum, but the Hurricanes turn it over, and they are moving it left and right. The Canes are awarded a penalty for offsides by the Crusaders. Black kicks for the corner.
  • 36
Black's conversion hits the post and doesn't go over.
  • 35
Carters clearance does not find touch and the Hurricanes run it back well. They spread wide and Dane Coles cuts in from the wing position and dives over for the try.
  • 32
Crusaders use the penalty to kick for touch. They set the line-out, but after a scrappy set-piece they receive a scrum. The Hurricanes are pounding the Crusaders defence and are 5m out as Milner-Skudder is just short. Thrush bangs it up but the Crusaders get a penalty.
  • 30
Savea finds touch from deep, and its a good kick up to the halfway for a Crusaders line-out. Funnel's throw is not straight so the Hurricanes will take a scrum on the 15m and halfway. Perenara picks up and puts a grubber through. Crusaders counter well with Nadolo down the wing, he makes 40m but he is just tackeld into touch. Play is brought back for a dangerous tackle by Fruean, and he is shown a yellow card.
  • 27
Carter curls one in from the corner. He is on fire with the boot.
  • 26
Black doesn't make too much distance and the Canes have a line-out on their 22m. Crusaders steal the line-out. Drummond gets the ball out and they spread to Nadolo who bounces Marshell and gives an awesome off-load to Haivili, he finds Drummond in support and he dives over for the try.
  • 24
Crusaders tails are up as Taufua finds a hole and off-loads. Crusaders have worked their way into the Hurricanes 22m. Haivili is tackled into touch 5m from the Canes line. Perenara kicks to touch from the line-out. Crusaders now back in the 22m, but McCaw is penalised for holding on. A relief for the Hurricanes.
  • 21
Carter makes it three in a row with penalty kicks.
  • 20
Carter restarts deep and Broadhurst carries well. Goodes is penalised for a side entry presenting Carter another opportunity to put points on the board.
  • 19
Black converts the penalty.
  • 18
Taufua is penalised off the restart and Black points to the poles to try and put the Hurricanes on the scoreboard.
  • 17
Carter takes a shot at goal again, and its over.
  • 16
Nadolo takes a short pass off the scrum but his met well by Savea off the flank. The Crusaders are exhausting left and right touchlines of the field, and they are eventually awarded a penalty for the Canes offside.
  • 13
A kick-exchange after the restart and the Crusaders decide to run it and set an attack around the halfway. Drummond controlling the breakdown. Marshall can't hang on to a high kick and the Crusader have a scrum on the Hurricanes 10m.
  • 11
Carter strikes it well to take the lead for the Crusaders.
  • 10
Crusaders steal the line-out and kick down field. Perenara replies with a touch-finder. Funnel finds his man in the line-out as Carter spreads it to Nadolo coming hard at the line. The Crusaders in the 22 of the Canes now as Carter attacks the line and off-loads well. Hurricanes penalised for no clear release. Carter will kick for poles.
  • 7
Hurricanes are running it back showing some god hands but the Crusaders defence is good. Savea bursts through a tackle and takes it into the 22m. Blade Thompson makes a good off-load but Savea cant handle it for a Crusaders scrum. Carter drills a kick from the scrum for a Hurricanes line-out.
  • 5
Crusaders steal the line-out and Taylor kicks down the middle of the field. Milner Skudder replies with a kick that goes too far and the Crusaders have a 22 drop out.
  • 4
Hurricanes quickly fine their way into the Crusaders 22m. Nonu fires a skip pass to Milner-Skudder but he is wrapped up buy Nadolo. Crusaders make a turnover and clear down field.
  • 2
Crusaders kicks out of their 22m and the Hurricanes knock on for a Crusaders scrum.
  • 0
KICK-OFF: Hurricanes flyhalf Otere Black gets the game underway.
  • -5
Its a fresh night in Nelson, but the conditions are clear.
  • -10
The seven-time champions will need to cause a major upset against the competitions runaway leaders, the Hurricanes, if they want to keep their mathematical chance of making the play-offs alive.
  • -15
The Hurricanes are welcoming back Conrad Smith as they look to secure a home semifinal. Ma'a Nonu will become the most capped Hurricane in history when he runs on the park. The Hurricanes have won five of their last six Super Rugby games against the Crusaders. However, all of these victories have come by a margin of seven or fewer points.
  • -20
Welcome to live coverage of Super Rugby Round 16 with the Hurricanes taking on the Crusaders at Nelson first up.
Mc crusaders logo 80x50
Crusaders
Mc hurricanes logo 80x50
Hurricanes
START LINE UP
  • 15 Tom Taylor
  • 14 Nafi Tuitavake
  • 13 Robbie Fruean
  • 12 David Havili
  • 11 Nemani Nadolo
  • 10 Dan Carter
  • 9 Mitchell Drummond
  • 8 Jordan Taufua
  • 7 Richie McCaw
  • 6 Matt Todd
  • 5 Jimmy Tupou
  • 4 Luke Romano
  • 3 Owen Franks
  • 2 Ben Funnell
  • 1 Alex Hodgman
RESERVES
  • 23 Jone Macilai-Tori
  • 22 Kieron Fonotia
  • 21 Andy Ellis
  • 20 Luke Whitelock
  • 19 Dominic Bird
  • 18 Nepo Laulala
  • 17 Tim Perry
  • 16 Codie Taylor
START LINE UP
  • 15 James Marshall
  • 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder
  • 13 Conrad Smith
  • 12 Ma'a Nonu
  • 11 Julian Savea
  • 10 Otere Black
  • 9 TJ Perenara
  • 8 Blade Thomson
  • 7 Ardie Savea
  • 6 Brad Shields
  • 5 James Broadhurst
  • 4 Jeremy Thrush
  • 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen
  • 2 Dane Coles
  • 1 Reg Goodes
RESERVES
  • 23 Matt Proctor
  • 22 Reynold Lee-Lo
  • 21 Chris Smylie
  • 20 Victor Vito
  • 19 Mark Abbott
  • 18 Ben Franks
  • 17 Ben May
  • 16 Motu Matu'u
Mc article blade thomson hurricanes v cruaders 630

Preview: S15 Round 16, Part One

Wed, 27 May 2015 23:55

The ninth-placed Crusaders could be ruled out of Super Rugby's play-offs for the first time in more than a decade. Jan de Koning reports.

The ninth-placed Crusaders could be ruled out of Super Rugby's play-offs for the first time in more than a decade.

The seven-time champions last missed the knock-out stages of the competition in 2001, when they finished a lowly 10th. The only other times they did not make the cut was in the first two year's of the sport's professional era, 1996 and 1997.

Since 2001 they have not only won seven titles in 13 years, but also finished runners-up on four other occasions.

They will need to cause a major upset against the competitions runaway leaders, the Hurricanes, in Nelson on Friday to avoid the ignominy of finishing with double digits as their final position in the tournament.

This intriguing encounter at Trafalgar Park is followed by the crunch clash between the Brumbies and Bulls in Canberra - two teams not quite as desperate as the Crusaders, but also on the verge of losing touch with the tournament's pace setters. The Brumbies are currently in sixth place and Bulls in eighth.

Friday's action is completed when two teams, the Sharks (11th) and Rebels (10th), face off in Durban. For all intents and purposes both are already out of the running and will be playing for pride only.

We look at Friday's matches!

Friday, May 28

Crusaders v Hurricanes

(Trafalgar Park, Nelson - Kick-off: 19.35; 07.35 GMT)

The fortunes of the two teams couldn't be more contrasting if they tried.

The Hurricanes have already secured their place in Super Rugby's season-ending play-offs - even though they are still chasing a home semifinal.

The Crusaders have accepted, barring a miracle, they are out of play-off contention.

The seven-time champions will be playing for pride and hoping to keep their dignity intact.

Having been decimated by injuries - including concussions to key players Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock and midfielder Ryan Crotty - the Crusaders are also without flyhalf Colin Slade (thigh), prop Joe Moody (foot) and fullback Israel Dagg.

The table-topping Hurricanes - who have been runners-up once and reached the semifinals on another five occasions - are determined to go all the way this year.

That means showing no mercy to their compatriots and recording a win that will guarantee them first place on the standings.

"It's pretty satisfying," Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith told the Dominion Post, when asked about his team's lofty standing this year.

"From four years ago it's largely the same group who were told we weren't much of a rugby team. We haven't had to recruit much.

"We've got Ma'a [Nonu] back and Franksy [Ben Franks] from down south, and a few guys have come through the region. I don't think a lot of the other New Zealand teams could boast the same thing."

And Smith said there was no chance of complacency with the squad desperate to make the good times flow through to a home semifinal in Wellington.

"We want to keep winning, we're enjoying the ride we're on. We don't want to just stagger into the playoffs… you lose momentum and that's when everything comes undone."

Recent results:
2015: Hurricanes won 29-23, Wellington
2014: Hurricanes won 16-9, Wellington
2014: Hurricanes won 29-26, Christchurch
2013: Crusaders won 25-17, Christchurch
2013: Hurricanes won 29-28, Wellington
2012: Hurricanes won 23-22, Christchurch
2012: Crusaders won 42-14, Wellington

Prediction: The Hurricanes have won five of their last six Super Rugby games against the Crusaders. However, all of these victories have come by a margin of seven or fewer points. The Canes remain unbeaten on the road this season, winning all six games and not conceding more than 19 points in any of these matches. The Crusaders have averaged more clean breaks per game (11.3) than any other side this season while the Hurricanes lead the way for defenders beaten (23). The Canes (96 percent) and the Crusaders (92 percent) rank first and second respectively for scrum success this season. The Hurricanes have gained more metres per game than any other side this season (533) while the Crusaders rank second in that regard (520). The Crusaders will make a fist of it and can even cause an upset. However, we feel the Hurricanes have too much class and will win by more than a converted try.

Teams:

Crusaders:
15 Tom Taylor, 14 Nafi Tuitavake, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 David Havili, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Matt Todd, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Kieron Fonotia, 23 Jone Macilai.

Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Otere Black, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Ben May, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Rey Lee-Lo, 23 Matt Proctor.

Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Kane McBride (New Zealand), Richard Kelly (New Zealand)
TMO: Chris Wratt (New Zealand)

Brumbies v Bulls
(Canberra Stadium, Canberra - Kick-off: 19.40; 11.40 SA time; 09.40 GMT)

The Brumbies are planning an early blitzkrieg against the Bulls, hoping to catch the South African tourists napping and forcing them to chase the game.

Brumbies win Joe Tomane said they are wary of the Bulls, a physical outfit that can scrap to the bitter end if the game is close.

"We have lost a few tight games this year, so the way to not lose a tight game is to score four tries in the first 20 minutes, blow it out of the park," Tomane told the Canberra Times.

"We'll be trying to do that, but they're a quality side and I don't think they'll let us.

"It will be a tight contest and we'll be doing everything we can to get the win."

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke sees the game very differently, expecting the Brumbies to use their much-vaunted kicking game to secure field position before launching any raids.

"It will be like Test rugby, with field position, turnovers, special moments," Ludeke said in a teleconference call from the team's base in Canberra.

He said basics, like the set pieces, will need to be spot on.

The Bulls coach said his team has worked hard on their set pieces, especially the scrums - which were an issue earlier in the season.

"That will be a challenge and something we have worked on, to get the pack to function as a unit," Ludeke said, adding: "That has been a focus area for us and it will be a test to see how much we have improved."

He said that with his team in a must-win situation, there has been a different focus this wee.

"We know there is no longer a safety net," he said of their hopes to make the play-offs.

"We need to be spot-on with our execution. The team is responding well and we know we need a special performance at the weekend."

Recent results:
2014: Bulls won 44-23, Pretoria
2013: Brumbies won 26-23, Pretoria (semifinal)
2013: Brumbies won 23-20, Canberra
2012: Bulls won 36-34, Pretoria
2010:  Bulls won 50-32, Pretoria
2009: Brumbies won 32-31, Canberra

Prediction: The last six games between these sides have seen an average aggregate of 62 points scored. In fact, in the entire 19 Super Rugby games between the teams, the average aggregate is 57 points. The Bulls have only won once in eight away trips to play the Brumbies, with that win coming in 2007. Only the Bulls (5.5) have averaged fewer off-loads per game than the Brumbies (6.3) in this campaign. The Brumbies have conceded fewer clean breaks (5.3) and metres (350) per game than any other side this season. The Brumbies have scored a competition-high 21 tries when beginning possession in their opponents' 22, and have also conceded a low of six when their opponents start possession in the Brumbies' 22. It will be a cracker, a real arm-wrestle that will be decided in the final 10 minutes. The Brumbies to win, inside one score.

Teams:

Brumbies:
15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Robbie Coleman, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Nigel Ah Wong, 23 James Dargaville.

Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip van de Merwe, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Morne Mellett, 19 Jacques du Plessis, 20 Pieter Labuschagne, 21 Jacques Louis Potgieter, 22 Travis Ismaiel, 23 Jesse Kriel.
 
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann, Ed Martin
TMO: Ian Smith

Sharks v Rebels
(Kings Park, Durban - Kick-off: 19.10; 17.10 GMT; 03.00, Saturday, May 30 AEST)

The Sharks and Rebels know they are effectively out of the running for places in the play-offs. And playing for pride only in the final round of the competition often means teams tend to throw off the shackles.

However, this seems unlikely as both teams have placed a high premium on victory.

The Rebels currently sit in 10th place on the table and the Sharks in 11th, so indications are that it will be good match up.

The Sharks have conceded the third most points in the competition. However, they have worked hard on improving their defence and do have an abundance of quality players within their squad.

Last week, the Rebels were defeated 31-15 by the Stormers in Cape Town, but produced a tenacious performance.

The Sharks, in contrast, finished their Australasian tour with victory over the Reds in Brisbane.

Having also pushing the Hurricanes and Waratahs to the limit in their previous two matches, the Rebels are expecting a another physical arm-wrestle against a "typical" South African outfit.

"They play very much like the Stormers, through channel one," Rebels coach Tony McGahan said in a teleconference call from the team's base in Durban.

"They have a very good maul and a strong scrum. Being back home they will look to get some more wins.

"No doubt they will go back to what works for them and I am sure they will be nice and direct."

McGahan gave further indication of the simplistic gameplan they are expecting from the Sharks when he said they had focused on their "game management and control" this week.

"We have worked on our kicking game and our high-ball catch," he added.

Sharks flyhalf Lionel Cronje seemed to be singing from the same hymnbook.

He said one of the aspects of their game they have been working on is their defence.

"Our whole focus has changed," Cronje said in an interview on the Sharks website.

"We have tried to put a lot of emphasis on our defence and understanding our roles from rucks into phase defence. The players' understanding is a lot clearer; the guys have really bought into the structures we want to have.

"It's really been successful in the last few weeks -we're not there yet but I think it's been a great improvement."

Previous results:
2014: Sharks won 22-16, Melbourne
2013: Sharks won 64-7, Durban
2011: Sharks won 34-32, Melbourne

Prediction: The Sharks have won 10 of the last 11 games when they have hosted Australian opposition. The Rebels' wait for a win in South Africa continues, they have lost all nine games so far and have conceded at least 30 points in eight of those games. The Rebels have made the most carries per game this season (123), while only the Cheetahs have made fewer than the Sharks (88). The Sharks have kicked from hand a tournament-high 26 times per game while only the Waratahs have kicked less often than the Rebels (17.2). Only the Stormers have conceded more tries in the 20 minutes before half-time than the Sharks (11) while the Rebels have conceded the second most in the 20 minutes after the break (14). The Rebels' winless streak in South Africa looks set to continue, as the Sharks will win by more than 10 points.

Teams:

Sharks:
15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Sibusiso Sithole, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts/Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Renaldo Bothma, 5 Marco Wentzel (captain), 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis , 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Etienne Oosthuizen/Khaya Majola, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Heimar Williams.

Rebels: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Sefanaia Naivalu, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Nic Stirzaker, 22 Jordy Reid, 23 Bryce Hegarty.

Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant referees: Rodney Boneparte, Ben Crouse
TMO: Marius Jonker

Compiled by Jan de Koning
@King365ed
@rugby365com


Statistical information provided by Opta Sports
 

Mc article nemani nadolo crusaders v hurricanes 630

Crusaders stun Hurricanes

Fri, 29 May 2015 09:30

REPORT: The Crusaders produced their best performance of the season to upset Super Rugby's runaway leaders, the Hurricanes on Friday.

The Crusaders produced their best performance of the season to upset Super Rugby's runaway leaders, the Hurricanes, at Trafalgar Park, in Nelson, on Friday.

Outscoring the visitors by four tries to two, the Crusaders' 35-18 win kept alive their faint, mathematical chance of reaching the play-offs.

The Hurricanes, who had already booked their place in the play-offs, never looked like they pitched up mentally for this game.

The seven-time champion Crusaders became only the second team to defeat the Hurricanes this year, but still risk missing the play-offs for the first time since 2001.

Inspired in attack by wing Nemani Nadolo, the Crusaders scored four tries to two, displaying the renowned dominance that has been missing for much of the season.

"Coming up against the top team, who've set the pace all year we wanted to dig deep," captain Richie McCaw said.

The bonus-point victory still leaves the Crusaders needing to win their last two matches and have other results go their way to make the play-offs.

The Hurricanes have already qualified for the play-offs, perhaps accounting for a lacklustre display that captain Conrad Smith said was a wake-up call.

"It was disappointing, we didn't turn up tonight," he said. They were hungrier than us and that's not good enough."

It was a downbeat way for the Hurricanes to mark All Black centre Ma'a Nonu's 123rd cap for the team, overtaking the record for most games set by former midfield great Tana Umaga.

The Hurricanes piled on the pressure early but a desperate tackle from Dan Carter stopped Julian Savea just short of the tryline.

Carter, playing in his preferred fly-half position, then gave the Crusaders the edge with three quick penalties.

They extended the lead with a try to scrumhalf Mitchell Drummond after a barnstorming run from wing Nemani Nadolo.

But a yellow card to Robbie Fruean halted their momentum, with the Hurricanes immediately hitting back with a try to Dane Coles to cut the gap to 8-16 at the break.

Ardie Savea took just 30 seconds after the restart to give the Hurricanes another try when he took off down the right wing.

The Crusaders then seized control of the match with tries to Nafi Tuitavake and Matt Todd, the second set up with a one-handed offload from Nadolo.

After setting up two tries, Nadolo then scored one for himself, gathering a cross-field chip from Carter then brushing off Nonu before crossing the line.

Man of the match: Other than Nehe Milner-Skudder not too many Hurricanes put their hands up. Dan Carter enjoyed being back at flyhalf and had his best game of the season. However, the player that did the most damage was the big Fijian wing Nemani Nadolo - who scored the bonus-point try and had a hand in two others.

The scorers:

For the Crusaders:
Tries:
Drummond, Tuitavake, Todd, Nadolo
Cons: Carter 3
Pens: Carter 3

For the Hurricanes:
Tries:
Coles, A Savea
Con: Black
Pens: Black 2

Yellow card: Robbie Fruean (Crusaders, 30 - foul play, careless tackle)

Teams:

Crusaders:
15 Tom Taylor, 14 Nafi Tuitavake, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 David Havili, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Matt Todd, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Kieron Fonotia, 23 Jone Macilai.

Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Otere Black, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Ben May, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Rey Lee-Lo, 23 Matt Proctor.

Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Kane McBride (New Zealand), Richard Kelly (New Zealand)
TMO: Chris Wratt (New Zealand)

Mitchell Drummond (26min), Nafi Tuitavake (46min), Matt Todd (57min), and Nemani Nadolo (70min)
TRIES
Dane Coles (35min) and Ardie Savea (42min)
Dan Carter (27min), Dan Carter (47min), and Dan Carter (58min)
CONVERSIONS
Otere Black (43min)
Dan Carter (11min), Dan Carter (17min), and Dan Carter (21min)
PENALTIES
Otere Black (19min) and Otere Black (55min)
 
PENALTY TRIES
 
DROP GOALS
Robbie Fruean (30min)
 
 
VENUE Nelson ( Nelson , New Zealand )
REFEREE Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)