Hurricanes remain on course
Skipper Smith bags a brace of tries in crucial victory for visitors
Last Updated: 30/06/12 12:31pm
Beauden Barrett: kicked the match-winning penalty
The Hurricanes kept alive their bid to make the Super Rugby play-offs with a thrilling 23-22 win over the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Fly-half Beauden Barrett booted a 73rd-minute penalty to win a see-saw contest which saw the lead change hands no fewer than five times.
A ninth win from 15 matches and the revenge of the Crusaders' triumph in Wellington earlier this season kept the Hurricanes in the hunt for a top-four finish, though they nearly missed out with the final kick of the match.
Replacement Tyler Bleyendaal had a late chance to win the game for the hosts, only for his long-range penalty to drop just shy of the posts.
Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith had crossed for two tries in the first half to give his side a narrow 17-16 lead at the break.
The second half became a battle of the boot, however, as Crusaders' Tom Taylor and Barrett traded efforts, with the latter nailing a penalty in the 74th minute to ultimately seal the win for the men in yellow.
Taylor had put the Crusaders, without Dan Carter, Kieran Read and Israel Dagg, into an early 6-0 lead with a pair of penalties before Smith scored his first try of the game.
Andre Taylor collected his own chip and chase to spark the move and although he was hauled down just short, Smith was on hand to take the pop pass and twist his way over.
The Crusaders' response was impressive enough, winger Zac Guildford bursting clear from inside his own half before running through the full-back to reach the line.
However, the Hurricanes replied on the stroke of half-time through Smith's second touchdown, Barrett's touchline conversion helping nudge the visitors ahead.
Taylor started the second half as he had begun the first - landing two penalties to push his team in front - but for all their dominance up front the Crusaders could not open up a gap.
Barrett, who made his debut for New Zealand in the third Test against Ireland, responded by kicking six points, edging the Hurricanes back in front.
Taylor failed with his final attempt, finishing with a 6-9 goalkicking record, before his replacement, Bleyendall, then missed a last-gasp attempt from halfway just as the siren sounded.