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Crusaders too good in the wet for Hurricanes

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allblacks.com     25 May 2018     Getty Images

With a spot at the top of the NZ Conference awaiting the winner, a tight tussle loomed in Christchurch. But the home-side were simply better in the sodden conditions to win comfortably and end the Hurricanes 10 match winning streak.

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The Hurricanes have averaged a competition high of 33.5 points per-game this season, but found themselves try-less until the 71st minute as the Crusaders unwavering defence and superb tactical play kept the Hurricanes pinned deep in their own half for much of the encounter.

Ill-discipline also hurt the Hurricanes at times and a lack of accuracy in the wet handed possession to the Crusaders who displayed superior ball control.

Despite missing four All Blacks in their tight five alone, the Crusaders were surprisingly dominant up front and scored all three of their tries through pure grunt power.

Their first try came in the 23rd minute when they swung onto attack following consecutive penalties against Jordie Barret for a late tackle and high shot.

There was no stopping lock Scott Barrett from close range as he barged over to open the scoring.

The Hurricanes answered back with penalties to both Jordie and Beauden Barrett to ensure all three Barrett’s got on the score sheet in the first half.



It was a classic master v apprentice battle at first five-eighth, but it was the apprentice in Richie Mo’unga who adapted to the conditions better. On his 24th birthday, Mo’unga really came into his own in the second half by marshalling the Crusaders superbly around the field while Barrett persisted with a high kicking game which was fielded easily by George Bridge and David Havili at the back for the Crusaders. 

After extending their lead to 10-6 through a Mo’unga penalty, the Crusaders took a stranglehold on the game in the 53rd minute. After a number of phases on the line, prop Mike Alaalatoa barged over to make it 17-6 to the homeside.

The Hurricanes simply couldn’t get their hands on the ball as the Crusaders held onto possession superbly and crashed over again in the 64th minute when Heiden Bedwell-Curtis went over from the back of the scrum to make it 24-6.

The Hurricanes had a trademark moment of magic in the 71st minute when reserve loose forward Reed Prinsep burst through the Crusaders defence from a deft Ardie Savea inside ball to make it 24-13.

The visitors tried desperately to score again in the final five minutes and grab a losing bonus point, but in the end a 24-13 victory to the Crusaders was a fair reflection on a dominant performance from the defending Super Rugby champions.

Scorers:

Crusaders 24 (Mike Alaalatoa, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Scott Barrett tries, Richie Mo’unga 3 con, pen) Hurricanes 13 (Reed Prinsep try, Jordie Barrett pen, Beauden Barrett pen, con)
HT: 7-6