Canes top Crusaders in try-fest
PRE-SEASON REPORT: Ngani Laumape capped off a day of fun, sun and rain at Border Rugby Club in Waverley with the winning try as the Hurricanes beat the Crusaders 33-27.
Laumape's late try was one of numerous highlights on a day that saw the two Super Rugby teams combine for 10 tries, five apiece, to complete their respective pre-season campaigns.
The first half was a try fest as Hurricanes wing Wes Goosen grabbed two early tries and Beauden Barrett streaked away for an intercept try to keep the scoreboard ticking.
The Crusaders, thanks to a hat-trick of tries to big wing Seta Tamanivalu led 27-19 at half-time, but tries to Nehe Milner-Skudder and Laumape got the home side the win to the delight of their Whanganui and South Taranaki fans.
Importantly, the Hurricanes left without any serious injuries as they set their sights on the first round of the 2017 Super Rugby season against the Sunwolves in Tokyo next Saturday.
Goosen's two tries both came courtesy of rookie fullback Jordie Barrett, who provided an off load and a deft grubber for his wing to score.
His older brother Beauden wasn't missing out on the action and with his team behind the scoreboard, he finished off the first half by scooting 60 metres for an intercept try.
Both teams made wholesale changes at the break and the momentum of the match shifted to the Hurricanes.
Otere Black, on at flyhalf, spotted a gap and dummied through to put Milner-Skudder over to draw his team within one point at 27-26, then Laumape busted through from a scrum as the rain, which had held off all day, finally came tumbling down.
Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said the match had been a perfect dress rehearsal for the start of the season proper.
"Whilst the score was largely irrelevant we were pleased with most aspects... the whole preseason has panned out reasonably well for us. We lost Vaea [Fifita] at the Tens but that's pretty much the only one. Everyone is in good condition and in a good space.
"What I was really pleased with was we were behind at halftime, we had no territory in the second half, but we finally managed to get some territory and possession and we converted it into points."
Boyd said he would name a squad of 25 to travel to Japan next week.
Tries: Goosen 2, B Barrett, Milner-Skudder, Laumape
Cons: B Barrett 2, Black 2
Tries: Tamanivalu 3, Funnell, Dagg
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Ere Enari, Jed Brown, 8 Whetu Douglas, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Pete Samu, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements - from: Joe Moody, Wyatt Crockett, Michael Alaalatoa, Codie Taylor, Luke Romano, Quinten Strange, Mitchell Dunshea, Jed Brown, Jordan Taufua, Bryn Hall, Mitchell Drummond, Mitch Hunt, Sione Fifita, David Havili, Sean Wainui, Manasa Mataele, Marty McKenzie.
Hurricanes - first half: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 3 Mike Kainga, 2 James O'Reilly, 1 Loni Uhila.
Hurricanes - second half: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Otere Black, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Chris Eves.
Replacements for both halves: Ben May, Hugh Renton, Jonah Lowe.
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)