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Crusaders stay in the hunt


Dane Coles scored for the Hurricanes as they were defeated by the Crusaders

Dane Coles scored for the Hurricanes as they were defeated by the Crusaders

Dane Coles scored for the Hurricanes as they were defeated by the Crusaders

The Crusaders kept their hopes of booking a place in the Super Rugby play-offs alive thanks to a 35-18 bonus-point win over the Hurricanes on Friday.

Mitchell Drummond, Nafi Tuitavake, Matt Todd and Nemani Nadolo all scored tries for the Crusaders, with Dan Carter kicking three penalties and three conversions.

Dane Coles and Ardie Savea touched down for the Hurricanes with Otere Black adding eight points with the boot.

The Canes needed just three points to ensure they finished the season on top of the standings but took nothing from this game in Invercargill.

Carter gave the Crusaders the lead in the 10th minute after the Hurricanes conceded a penalty five metres out after the tackler did not release, then added a second shortly after for a 6-0 lead.

Black pulled three points back for the visitors in the 19th minute before Carter slotted his third to reopen a six-point gap.

The hosts moved further ahead in the 25th minute when Nadolo broke free and fed Tuitavake out wide, who passed to Drummond who scored. Carter added the conversion from a wide angle.

Crusaders centre Robbie Fruean was sent to the sin bin on the half hour mark for a careless tackle on Nehe Milner-Skudder and the Canes quickly made the most of having an extra man as Coles went over in the corner.

Black's conversion attempt hit the post and missed as the the Crusaders took a 16-8 lead at the break.

The Canes crossed again a minute into the second half when Ma'a Nonu chipped the ball through and Conrad Smith regathered, playing in Savea on the wing who scored. Black converted this attempt successfully as the lead was cut to a single point.

Tuitavake increased the Crusaders' lead again after his try was awarded by the TMO - his first in 18 games - with Carter again adding the extras.

Black kept the Canes in the hunt with another well-taken penalty kick for three more points but hope was soon extinguished when Nadolo played in flanker Todd at the other end, whose momentum carried him over for a try.

Carter again did not miss and after creating scoring chances, Nadolo crossed for a try of his own in the 71st minute to secure the bonus point. This time, Carter sent the conversion wide.