Hurricanes stun Crusaders with electric second half comeback

Josh Moorby goes in to score for the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes have given club talisman Dane Coles a win in his final Super Rugby game in Wellington after pulling off an impressive comeback against the Crusaders.

Down 19-8 at the break, the Hurricanes came out firing in the second spell and capitalised on the Crusaders' errors - including a yellow card to Codie Taylor - to snatch a 27-26 win in the capital.

In fact, they kept the defending champions scoreless in the second half until the final play of the game where Chay Fihaki went over in the corner with a fine finish.

But it was a slick ending to an otherwise subpar second stanza where handling errors and an attack lacking any real direction gave the Hurricanes the window of opportunity they needed to get back into the contest.

They didn't hesitate.

Spurred on by a a Billy Proctor try just before the break, the Hurricanes came out firing in the second half with their leader and enforcer Ardie Savea leading from the front.

They also had a fired-up Coles not afraid to get his hands dirty as usual although this time it saw him almost come to blows with fellow All Blacks hooker Taylor as the pair exchanged a fiery shirt-grabbing session to spark the second half.

The scuffle appeared to have originated from a verbal exchange from Coles to a Crusader which Taylor took exception to.

Codie Taylor and Dane Coles had a bit of a chat during the fiery encounter.

“We’ve got a lot of respect for each other but it’s Hurricanes versus Crusaders so we're not holding back,” Coles said post-match.

“He was looking out for his team-mate and I was looking out for myself.

“It was a little bit of banter and I was pretty surprised because he's usually calm and collected, Codes. We left it... I love Codes, he's a good man and I’ve got a lot of respect.”

That calmness seemed to go missing as the hosts soon after set up camp inside the Crusaders' 22 and while it took them a few cracks - and penalties - to convert on the early territory and pressure, eventually the Hurricanes were rewarded.

The prize wasn't the five points they'd been chasing for 10 minutes but rather the sin binning of Taylor for cynical play in trying to slow the relentless Hurricanes attack.

The Hurricanes didn't immediately convert on the newfound numbers advantage with the Crusaders' goalline defence - one of the only shining lights of their second half - remaining staunch but finally they found a hole via a Jordie Barrett break and sublime Savea offload to get Roigard in under the sticks.

That made it 15-19 heading into the final quarter of the match and the Hurricanes continued to play with the wind truly in their sails as again the Crusaders defence was tested near their line.

While they did well to hold on as long as they did, the Hurricanes wore them down enough to get Josh Moorby over in the corner and with it, a 22-19 lead with little over 10 minutes to go.

Another Crusaders error shortly after the restart put them back on the back foot once again and the fatigue was starting to show as the Hurricanes rolled over once more moments later through Brayden Iose.

Brayden Iose dives in to score for the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes chewed up enough clock from their to get the job done although they were caught napping by a flying Fihaki in the corner at the end of the game to make it a one-point win.

But a win is a win and it will mean a lot to competition despite how little impact it has on the competition standings heading into next week's quarterfinals.

For one, it will likely be Coles' final game in the Cake Tin having announced his impending retirement after this season, and the Hurricanes finishing fifth meaning they will most likely miss out on hosting a knockout game in the playoffs unless there are some upsets.

More importantly, the Brumbies will have taken note of the Hurricanes' impressive second half efforts ahead of hosting them next week in the 4v5 matchup while the Crusaders will need to head back to the drawing board to figure out where they went wrong in the second half ahead of hosting the seventh seed next week.

Hurricanes 27 (Billy Proctor, Cam Roigard, Josh Moorby, Brayden Iose tries; Brett Cameron 2 cons, Jordie Barrett pen)

Crusaders 26 (Leicester Fainga’anuku, Codie Taylor, Braydon Ennor, Chay Fihaki tries; Richie Mo’unga 3 cons)

HT: 8-19


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