Out-scored four tries to three in Christchurch on Saturday, the Crusaders found a way to remain on track for a third straight title, with five-eighth Richie Mo’unga once again a key figure.
Mo’unga scored 20 points, while winger Sevu Reece scored a double to push him clear as the competition’s leading try-scorer with 15.
It was enough to win a Kiwi derby thriller, quelling a Hurricanes side who were led by Ngani Laumape’s double and an inspiring display from halfback TJ Perenara, whose 127th game was a Hurricanes record.
Standing in the way of a 10th Crusaders title are the Jaguares after the Argentine side booked their maiden grand final appearance with a 39-7 demolition of the Brumbies in Buenos Aires in front of a crowd of 31,000. However, the Jaguares must slay the competition’s Goliath next Saturday in Christchurch.
— Hurricanes Rugby (@Hurricanesrugby) June 29, 2019
The Crusaders have won 30 successive home matches and have never lost a home finals match. They are 23-from-23, with six of those wins coming over the Hurricanes.
The game came alive in the second spell after the Crusaders dominated the opening half but only led 13-7. Reece’s opening try from a Ryan Crotty cross-kick and Richie Mo’unga’s boot pushed them clear but momentum swung with Hurricanes tries either side of the break, to Laumape and winger Ben Lam.
Ryan Crotty ? Sevu Reece….Yah kidding! ?
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) June 29, 2019
The teams alternated try for try over a compelling second 40 minutes, with scores to Mo’unga and Reece cancelled out by Laumape and Perenara, whose outrageous dummy from close range was bought, lifting his team to within a point with 19 minutes remaining.
Mo’unga’s third penalty gave the Crusaders a buffer but they needed all their defensive resilience over the closing minutes to keep the desperate Hurricanes out.
WATCH: Knocked, episode one on the RugbyPass series Beyond 80 which focuses on the issue of concussion
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