The red and yellow clash got everyone’s heart racing on Sunday, as the win came down to an outstanding drop goal slotted by Crusaders’ second five-eighth David Havili in the newly introduced 'golden point period.'
Coming out of a hard loss last week and celebrating Joe Moody’s 100th game, the Crusaders had a lot to play for, while the Hurricanes were looking for victory on their home ground.
The Hurricanes came out firing with a confident start, and after a few early penalties Jordie Barrett managed to get three points on the board after missing his first attempt.
The Crusaders responded quickly, attacking the home side and finding George Bridge out on the wing. Despite the Hurricanes’ defensive efforts, they inadvertently carried him over the line.
Within 15 minutes, Bridge found himself across the line a second time after a messy scrum and some great ball movement across the field. However, centurion Joe Moody unfortunately left the field injured.
Successful conversions by Richie Mo’unga brought the score to 3-14, a good scoreboard position for the Crusaders.
The Hurricanes were driving and recycling the ball well, forcing the Crusaders to have high tackle rates on defence. After some consistent attacking phases, Ngani Laumape found a gap in the Crusaders wall and got the ball across the line. A conversion by Jordie Barrett closed the score gap to 10-14.
The Crusaders responded with points almost immediately, as Mo’unga slotted a penalty goal for the visitors. The Hurricanes were clearly not disheartened, as Blackwell managed to steal the following kick off catch and send it to Julian Savea, who boosted to the try line. Another conversion by Barrett evened the score to 17 all.
The last seconds before halftime saw Ngani Laumape sent to the sin bin for foul play, leaving the home team down a player heading into the final forty minutes.
Even with a player deficit, the Hurricanes gained some momentum after a quick break from stand-out captain Ardie Savea, and with some great footwork Wes Goosen managed to get the try two minutes into the second half.
Penalty kicks for each side saw the Hurricanes leading 27-20 with just under 20 minutes to go, the win well within reach for the home side. However, offensive pressure up the middle found Sevu Reece in space on the wing, resulting in a converted try and an even scoreboard.
As the final siren sounded, the game resorted to golden point. The Crusaders came out firing in the first minute and in the face of a charge down from Mitchell Dunshea, David Havili booted the winning drop goal.
The close final score of 27-30 reflected the nail-biting battle between these two sides, who both put out really strong performances.
Crusaders 30 (George Bridge 2, Sevu Reece tries; Richie Mo’unga 3 con, 2 pen, David Havili dg) Hurricanes 27 (Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Wes Goosen tries; Jordie Barrett 3 con, 2 pen). HT: 17-17. FT: 27-27.