WELLINGTON – The undefeated Crusaders’ hopes of a flawless Super Rugby season were shattered on Saturday with a 31-22 loss to the Hurricanes.
The Crusaders went into the fixture hot favourites, but paid the price for poor discipline as the defending champions ran in four tries to two at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
The seven-times champion team from Christchurch attacked well, but hampered their chances with constant disciplinary lapses.
The result gives the Lions the chance to overtake the Crusaders at the top of the table if they beat the Sharks in Durban.
It also means the Hurricanes will play the Brumbies next week, rather than facing a gruelling trip to South Africa against the Stormers.
The Crusaders made a perfect start with a try to Seta Tamanivalu in the third minute after a quick tap penalty caught the Hurricanes defence off guard.
He had his second 10 minutes later when Kieran Read passed to him on the wing, catching the ball awkwardly but evading a tackler to dive into the corner.
The Hurricanes enjoyed long periods of possession and Ngani Laumape eventually battered his way though the Crusaders’ line to set up a try for Jordie Barrett.
They went into the break trailing 12-7, but gained the lead four minutes after the restart through a Julian Savea try.
Flyhalf Otere Black sent a high cross-field kick to the sideline, and Savea batted it down to keep it in play and then scooped it from the ground and crossed for the five-pointer.
Read set up the Crusaders’ second try when his pass found Israel Dagg, who sidestepped Jordie Barrett.
The Hurricanes regained the lead with tries to Wes Goosen and Vaea Fifita, making it 28-22 to the home side with 10 minute to go before a Jordie Barrett penalty sealed the win.