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Hurricanes snatch thrilling win

Date

Hurricanes 28 Chiefs 25

Open spaces ... Andre Taylor breaks free.

Open spaces ... Andre Taylor breaks free. Photo: Getty Images

Entertainers to the end, the Hurricanes playoff hopes are alive after a last second try to Dane Coles saw them beat the Chiefs 28-25 in Wellington.

MATCH STATS

Their win was as unlikely as their season and in front of 23,549 screaming converts the Hurricanes put themselves in a position to achieve what seemed impossible at the start of the season.

They needed some luck but the Hurricanes dream will stay alive at least until early Sunday morning.

A season of highs ended on the highest of them all when Coles crashed over for the try that sealed their win over the competition-leading Chiefs.

It seemed impossible 20 minutes earlier when Aaron Cruden had intercepted a Beauden Barrett pass to race away for a try and a 22-18 lead that cancelled out two earlier tries to Hurricanes wing Julian Savea.

Conrad Smith's side doesn't know how to lie down though and threw everything at the final minutes.

In the end it hung on an agonising wait after referee Jonathan Kaplan referred to television match official Mike Fraser who, after countless replays, brought the house down by ruling a try.

It will be talked about at length with replays inconclusive to many, but patrons hugged each other and the Hurricanes players embraced as coach Mark Hammett's fairytale season took another twist.

The win lifts the Hurricanes to fourth place. They will wait till early Sunday morning before they know their fate, but will not finish lower than eighth.

Neither team left fully satisfied with the Chiefs failing to get the win that would have helped them secure top spot on the Super Rugby ladder, and the Hurricanes one try short of the four try bonus.

But for now they will not care after toppling the front-runners and proving themselves worthy of a place among the top sides.

The second half was gripping rather than entertaining with Cruden and Barrett trading penalties during a tight struggle.

Barrett banged over a penalty in the 62nd minute to close the gap to 22-21 as both kickers struggled with the conditions, but Cruden seemed to have had the final say when he made it 25-21 till that final play.

Nobody was going to die wondering in this match and from the start it was played at a hectic pace.

The Hurricanes made a sloppy start, a poor pass from Andre Taylor, a penalty for advancing ahead of the kicker, then a soft try to halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow, the player of the match.

It was 3-7 before the home side knew it but they haven't blinked all season and rose to the challenge.

The Chiefs seemed determined to play the match through the middle of the ruck and Kerr-Barlow was sniping at every opportunity.

It was a timely reminder of TJ Perenara's absence, but his replacement Chris Eaton was getting ball on a platter and the pace of the Hurricanes attack was electric.

Savea's remarkable season continued with two tries as the Hurricanes shot out to a 15-7 lead.

The first came after a Chiefs turnover on their 22. Tim Bateman spotted the opportunity and set off in a sweeping movement that involved Smith twice.

The second was the result of quick ruck ball, but it would have been the defensive stand before it that had Hammett beaming.

Lam cried off with a shoulder injury, then May was sinbinned for a dangerous tackle on Sonny Bill Williams that didn't warrant even a penalty.

Whatever the case, it cost the Hurricanes eight points. The Chiefs lineout might have struggled the previous week, but it was a well oiled machine with Craig Clarke back in control.

Cruden's penalty hit the post and ended up in touch. From the ensuing lineout Tameifuna crashed over just as May was set to return to the field to tie the scores at 15-all.

But the Hurricanes were in their element as the odds stacked against them and got home in the end.

Stuff.co.nz

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