Hurricanes end Crusaders' unbeaten run
MATCH REPORT: The Crusaders’ 36-game unbeaten streak at home has finally ended on Saturday.
The Super Rugby Champions headed into the match needing just a bonus-point win to be crowned the first-ever Super Rugby Aotearoa Champions.
However, the Hurricanes had other plans and halted all the celebrations as they recorded a 34-32 win over the Crusaders at Christchurch.
Richie Mo’unga had a chance to send the game into overtime with a 78th-minute conversion for the Crusaders but his sideline conversion just went wide.
It was the Crusaders’ first loss at home in 37 games since they were also beaten by the Hurricanes in July 2016.
It was also their first loss in New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa competition while the Hurricanes, who lost their first two matches, are now on a four-match winning streak.
Peter Umaga-Jensen, a nephew of former All Blacks great Tana Umaga, set up two first-half tries by Wes Goosen for the Hurricanes to turn with a 21-17 advantage and then scored a crucial try himself in the 61st minute to push the Hurricanes to a 31-20 lead.
The Crusaders, renowned for dominating the closing quarter, came back with tries to Quinten Strange and Sevu Reece either side of a Jordie Barrett penalty.
Before kick-off, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson singled out inside centre Ngani Laumape as the Hurricanes dangerman but it was his outside Umaga-Jensen who caused the most problems as he repeatedly punched his way through the Crusaders.
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The Crusaders, coming off a bye, had problems from the start when they gave away three penalties in the first eight minutes with Jordie Barrett converting the third for the Hurricanes to take the early lead.
The Crusaders quickly levelled with a penalty of their own by Mo’unga who backed up with a converted try only for the lead to be erased soon after when Goosen touched down for the Hurricanes with Barrett adding the extras.
The Crusaders hit the front again with a freakish try to George Bridge when a cut-out pass from Sevu Reece fell at his feet.
Without losing stride, Bridge toed the ball over and then beat a slow turning Barrett to the ball.
But when Goosen scored his second try the Hurricanes hit the front again and never relinquished the lead.
Man of the match: It was simply end-to-end stuff. For the Crusaders Richie Mo’unga produced yet another excellent performance with striking runs and crucial kicks. Sevu Reece and Mitchell Drummond were also in fine form. In the Hurricanes squad, Peter Umaga-Jensen was simply excellent, while captain Thomas Perenara was another vital link in the side’s setup. However, for his impressive runs and amazing kicking display (only missing one conversion) our nod goes to Hurricanes fullback Jordie Barrett.
Tries: Mo’unga, Bridge, Strange, Reece
Cons: Mo’unga 3
Pens: Mo’unga 2
Tries: Goosen 2, Umaga-Jensen
Cons: Barrett 2
Pens: Barrett 5
Yellow card: Quinten Strange (Crusaders, 79 – punching or striking the opposition )
Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Fetuli Paea, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor (captain), 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 George Bower, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Sione Havili, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Leicester Fainga’anuku.
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Thomas Perenara (captain), 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Fraser Armstrong.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Tevita Mafileo, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Vaea Fifita, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Vince Aso, 23 Chase Tiatia.
Referee: James Doleman
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, Mike Fraser
TMO: Ben O’Keeffe