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Smith double inspires Hurricanes to victory

Date

Richard Knowler

Crusaders 22 Hurricanes 23

In safe hands ... Conrad Smith is all smiles after his inspired performance helped topple the Crusaders.

In safe hands ... Conrad Smith is all smiles after his inspired performance helped topple the Crusaders. Photo: Getty Images

Some Conrad Smith magic and Beauden Barrett's icy disposition have ensured the Hurricanes' Super Rugby play-off hopes have a heartbeat.

MATCH STATS

Last night the Hurricanes calmly held on to stun the Crusaders 23-22 at AMI Stadium despite their scrum being embarrassed and being unable to add to Smith's two first-half tries.

Runaway try ...  Zac Guildford scoots between the Hurricanes defence to score for the Crusaders.

Runaway try ... Zac Guildford scoots between the Hurricanes defence to score for the Crusaders. Photo: Getty Images

The Crusaders had a late chance to win the match when replacement back Tyler Bleyendaal attempted an angled penalty from 50m but it fell short and the Hurricanes celebrated wildly in the realisation they still have a chance to win their first title.

A loss would have been devastating to their chances. Now they will enter next week's bye to prepare to face the Chiefs in the final round.

The Crusaders, who will rue the not kicking more intelligently for field position in the first half, are unlikely to top the New Zealand conference; with two rounds remaining the Chiefs look set to secure that precious space.

The seven-time champions Crusaders are no certainty to qualify as they prepare for their final games against the Chiefs and the Force.

The Hurricanes had done their homework at the breakdown and they were remorseless in this facet, especially in the first half. With the Crusaders forwards lax around the ruck the visitors ensured the pill was often scrappy for Andy Ellis and were also helped by the hosts making a clutch of uncharacteristic handling errors.

It was bitterly cold, too, and it seemed referee Bryce Lawrence was concerned about his the pea in his whistle freezing as he hammered both sides with penalties. Within 15 minutes he had dished out six. But Hurricanes' rake Dane Coles couldn't blame Lawrence for his three consecutive lineout throws in the first spell and as the crowd revelled in his misfortune he had to have been tempted to reverse his throws into selected targets in the stand.

The Crusaders, who had loosehead prop Wyatt Crockett, 29, celebrating his 100th Super outing, repeatedly destroyed the 'Canes set-piece with their props on both side of the scrum pinged for dragging it to the ground. Turning around a point down the Crusaders had coach Todd Blackadder's instructions to temper their ball-carrying exuberance and kick more intelligently.

Neither side was able to score a try in the second half as the match reverted to a grind that was often interrupted by Lawrence's adjudications. First blood was drawn by 'Canes skipper Smith and it came with a dollop of controversy as Crusaders' playmaker Tom Taylor protested Julian Savea had run interference as the midfielder dotted down.

There were no histrionics following Smith's second effort late in the first half, though. The classy All Blacks centre executed a crisp dummy down the short side and shot through Sean Maitland's tackle to ensure Barrett's conversion gave his lot a 17-16 halftime lead.

The best try of the evening was scored by Crusaders wing Zac Guildford minutes earlier when he emphasised just how cruel he can be when his confidence is high and charitable defences inexplicably offer him space.

A quick pass by Ryan Crotty allowed Guildford enough time to gas between Barrett and Faifili Levave 65m out, and as he angled towards the line he beat Andre Taylor with ease before a swan dive that looked more dangerous to his own health than spectacular.

The Crusaders will rue the absence of injured All Blacks Dan Carter, Kieran Read and Israel Dagg but it was their inability to abstain from conceding penalties and to maintain momentum that proved so costly.

HURRICANES 23 (Conrad Smith 2 tries Beauden Barrett 2 cons 3 pens) bt CRUSADERS 22 (Zac Guildford try Tom Taylor con 5 pens) at Christchurch Stadium. Referee: Bryce Lawrence.

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG vs AUS 01:30Twic
WAL vs RSA 01:30MilS
View All Fixtures
 
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