by Roger Childs
The Hurricanes are camped in the Crusaders 22 but have less than 2 minutes to score the winning try. Perenara to Beauden Barrett … however he is well tackled. Barrett plants the ball and Perenara reaches for it .. but he knocks it on, or did Whitelock knock it forward? The replay will show us … Actually I think it was the Crusaders skipper coming through the ruck who propelled it forward. The referee has gone to the TMO for confirmation … Yes it was clearly Whitelock …penalty to the Hurricanes.
Four points down they must score a try to make the final in Buenos Aires next weekend …. Barrett puts the ball into the corner so it’s Hurricanes throw to the lineout, ten metres from the line … The Crusaders are getting prepared for the inevitable drive … Coles throws in and Fafita rises high to secure the ball .., the drive is on, but there is little momentum .. the ball comes back to Coles who has joined the maul at the back … still no forward movement, but here come the backs! They pile in lead by Laumape … the maul moves forward and … Coles is over for the winning try!
But it didn’t happen that way. As most of you will know, the referee didn’t go to the TMO to check what happened in the last ruck. He ruled that Perenara had knocked the ball on at that last ruck, so it was scrum feed to the Crusaders. Full time ticked over and Mo’unga happily kicked the ball into touch.
So the Crusaders will defend their Super Rugby title in Christchurch against the Jaguares next Saturday.
Were the Hurricanes unlucky?
Unquestionably — they scored four tries to three and overall didn’t get the rub of the green. Their backs were more dangerous than the home team’s and their forwards surprisingly had the better of the All Black Crusader pack, especially in the second half.
Fafita was also unlucky being penalised for not rolling away in the 71st minute as he had two Crusaders on top of him and did not interfere with the play. This allowed Mo’unga to stretch the lead to a winning 30-26. However, Coles should have been penalised earlier, at the very least, for a barge on Mo’unga.
The Hurricanes played very well from late in the first spell after being 0-13 down. Their four tries were well executed, but so were the Crusaders three. Jordie Barrett hit the post with a first half penalty shot and the third home team try resulted from Marshall, sliding into to trap the ball from a well-timed Mo’unga kick and completely missing it.
The Crusaders did show their ability to bounce back each time the Hurricanes got close and Mo’unga’s kicking was deadly – three conversions and three penalties. His 100% goal kicking record on the night made the difference in the scores.
I can’t see the Crusaders losing at home against the Argentine side which has had to travel half way round the world. However, after their recent games against the Chiefs and the Hurricanes they know they need to step up.
There is plenty at stake and losing the final and their title, is not an option the Crusaders care to think about.