Hurricanes still alive - at last gasp

Getty Images     02 May 2010     Getty Images

With the Crusaders and Waratahs losing earlier in the round, the Hurricanes had the perfect opportunity to get themselves right back in the play-off hunt but they left it late with Nonu rampaging his way over for his second try before Tialata's score at the death got his team the much needed bonus point.

The Chiefs looked in control at half-time with a 24-15 lead after wrapping up the bonus point with first-half tries for Jackson Willison, Sona Taumalolo, Tim Nanai-Williams and Liam Messam.

Even having replacement loose forward Luke Braid sent to the sin-bin appeared not to have hampered the Chiefs, who managed to keep the Hurricanes scoreless in that period once the initial penalty for the breakdown infringement had been slotted by Weepu.

But Nonu's try in the 75th minute, Callum Bruce's missed penalty attempt, then Tialata's last gasp try brought the crowd to its feet as the Hurricanes survived for another week.

The Hurricanes were their own worst enemies with turnover ball once again costing them dear.

After taking an early lead with a Cruden penalty they handed the Chiefs the initiative when they failed to gather the restart.

Although Victor Vito stole the ball back for the home side a fumble by Aaron Cruden was pounced on by Jackson Willison who raced in under the posts to score against the run of play and Bruce banged over the conversion.

Another turnover halted another promising build-up for the Hurricanes who attacked the Chiefs hard around the fringes.

Then from a quick lineout Nonu and Vito combined well down the left wing only for the second five-eighths to throw a 50-50 pass which hit Nanai-Williams.

The territorial advantage and pressure finally brought some reward when Jane got across the line after another good line-break by Nonu and good support play from Karl Lowe. The ball went wide from a ruck and Jane was over. Cruden though couldn't add the extras.

But for the next 10 minutes it was all the Chiefs as they probed around the fringes with Liam Messam, Colin Bourke making good ground.

A good break by Bruce provided the spark for Taumalolo's 19th minute try as the first-five slipped the tackle of Cruden before being brought down by Nonu just five metres short.

The ball was spun wide to the prop out on the left wing and he forced his way over despite the desperate tackles of John Schwalger, Bryn Evans and Andrew Hore.

Bruce was off target with the conversion and he also failed to convert Nanai-Williams' effort six minutes later when the livewire full-back showed superb footwork to beat Nonu, Hore and Schwalger and Jane to score, although he took a boot to the shin and appeared to be hampered for the remainder of the game.

Messam's bonus-point try came from a mistake off the back of the Hurricanes scrum deep in their own half when he intercepted Rodney So'oialo's intended pass to Tyson Keats and raced 20-plus metres to score.

Bruce's conversion stretched the Chiefs' lead to 24-8 but a late surge by the Hurricanes which saw Nonu finally barge his way over for a converted score meant the visitors led by nine points at the break.

The opening 20 minutes of the second half was scrappy with both sides guilty of giving away too many penalties.

Aside from a 43rd minute effort by Cruden and a 53rd minute three-pointer by Bruce the goal-kickers were unable to make the most of it with Colin Bourke missing one and Hurricanes replacement half-back Weepu sending a straightforward attempt wide.

The Chiefs eventually paid the price for their persistent infringing at the breakdown with substitute loose forward Braid sin-binned just after coming on to the field. Weepu made
no mistake this time and the Hurricanes trailed by six points with 18 minutes to go.

Hurricanes 33 (Cory Jane, Ma'a Nonu 2,Neemia Tialata tries; Aaron Cruden con, 2 pen; Piri Weepu 2 con, pen) Chiefs: 27 (Jackson Willison, Sona Taumalolo, Tim Nanai-Williams, Liam Messam tries; Callum Bruce 2 con, pen)HT: 15-24