Hurricanes hold off Crusaders to stay top

The Hurricanes have consolidated their position at the top of the Super Rugby ladder with a 29-23 win over the Crusaders in a see-sawing battle in Wellington.

The home side, despite a scratchy lineout and a dearth of first-half possession, again profited from their expansive attacking ability as they ran in four tries to two.

The result continued their recent dominance over the Crusaders, having now beaten the seven-time champions in five of their past six encounters.

More importantly, their bonus-point victory on Saturday night, which improved their record to 9-1, ensures they will remain on top of the table at the end of the weekend.

For the Crusaders, it was a sixth loss of the season and it puts a dent in their push for a top-six spot.

It was match in which both five-eighths – Hurricane Beauden Barrett and Crusader Colin Slade – showed their running prowess.

Barrett’s night was to end early after his right knee got twisted in a tackle and he limped off with 10 minutes to go.

Slade made his mark as early as the second minute, his break setting up inside centre Dan Carter for the opening try.

But soon after, a misdirected pass from Slade was scooped up by Barrett, who sprinted 85 metres to dot down.

The Hurricanes followed up with some excellent support play to send No.8 Brad Shields over for the game’s third try after just 11 minutes.

The Crusaders then began to lift a gear, controlling possession and forcing the Hurricanes into plenty of defence.

The Hurricanes were able to hold out until they had midfielder Ma’a Nonu yellow-carded for a second successive break-down infringement.

Slade landed the penalty before making another incisive run to dot down for a converted try.

Barrett responded with his own break that almost brought a try for lock James Broadhurst before slotting the penalty that levelled the scores at 17-17 at halftime.

He then began the counter-attack that finished with prop Reg Goodes diving over for a try to put the Hurricanes into a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Replacement loose forward Blade Thomson, in his first appearance since getting over concussion, finished off another expansive move to grab the bonus-point try.

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