Hurricanes stamina outlasts the Crusaders

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Saturday, March 10, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

The Hurricanes, on home soil for the first time in the Investec Super Rugby competition in 2018, scored only a 50m Jordie Barrett penalty goal in the second half, but equally the Crusaders could score only one try in spite of vastly increased possession compared to the first half.

Making light of their tortuous travel around the world during the first two weeks of the competition, the Hurricanes revelled in being back on home turf with a dazzling first quarter, hitting the Crusaders in their own strong area by scoring three tries.

No Hurricane had more cause for satisfaction than prop Chris Eves. He scored the first try, played a key role in the second, performed on both sides of the front row and while conceding two key penalties compensated for that by contributing around the field.

Admittedly the Crusaders had been on the end of a string of early penalty rulings against them but the Hurricanes made them pay dearly. Compounded by the early loss of second five-eighths Ryan Crotty and captain and lock Sam Whitelock after HIA checks, they took until the last 10 minutes of the first half to regain some momentum.

In light of the injuries, the effort of new Crusader flanker Heiden Bedwell-Curtis reflected the determination in the side with a fine all-round effort in the loose.

It was from an uncontrolled bobble of contested ball at a lineout on their own line the Crusaders conceded the first try when Eves had the ball drop into his hands. He put his head down to drive over after four minutes.

Eves was back in the action, this time slipping a perfectly-weighted short pass to fullback Barrett who flew onto the ball, through a gap and cut back across toward the corner before flinging a pass inside where Perenara had followed up to claim the bouncing ball and the try.

Then in the 21st minute, after being under pressure in their own 22m area, the Hurricanes unleashed one of their famed breakouts after Crusaders prop Wyatt Crockett dropped the ball. Perenara was onto it in a flash passing out to Beauden Barrett whose long pass found wing Ben Lam.

The former All Blacks Sevens player demonstrated his speed when bursting into another gear to go around fullback David Havili and to score the try which took the Crusaders to a 21-0 lead.

It took a powerful surge by Crusaders hooker Codie Taylor to finally create a try scoring chance on the right flank. He got the ball to wing Manasa Mataele and his determination got him over the line.

But in attempting to clear the restart in their 22m area, Crusaders first five-eighths Mitch Hunt had his kick charged down by Hurricanes skipper and flanker Brad Shields and it was centre Matt Proctor who got the rebound to score.

There was some satisfaction for the Crusaders in the 36th minute when their lineout drive was executed to perfection for flanker Jordan Taufua to score.

That proved the inspiration for the Crusaders who started the second half by resorting to lineout drives on the back of the Hurricanes being penalised at scrum and breakdown situations. It resulted in a 55th minute try for prop Mike Alaalatoa which got the Crusaders to within seven points, but also had the benefit of sapping the strength from the home pack.

However, defensive strength and pressure denied the Crusaders and the Hurricanes could reflect that if their loss to the Bulls was one of the worst performances in the coaching era of Chris Boyd, then Saturday night's effort was one to be savoured.

Scorers: Hurricanes 29 (Chris Eves, TJ Perenara, Ben Lam, Matt Proctor tries; Beauden Barrett 3 con; Jordie Barrett pen) Crusaders 19 (Manasa Mataele, Jordan Taufua, Michael Alaalatoa tries; Mitchell Hunt 2 con). HT: 26-12