A thrilling Super Rugby semi-final has seen the Crusaders advance to the grand final for the third year in a row, getting the better of the Hurricanes by 30 to 26 in Christchurch.
After a strong start to the game, the home side had to survive numerous scares in the second half, eventually surviving by the skin of their teeth after a brilliant final ten minutes where they didn’t let up.
The Crusaders dominated much of the first half, but struggled to come up with the points to show for it.
The possession and territory they had, combined with errors from the Hurricanes, left them ruing missed opportunities by the time the halftime siren sounded.
After just quarter of an hour, it looked like the Crusaders were going to be in a position to blow the Hurricanes off the park, however, the Hurricanes defence got going, and they managed to hold out the usually clinical Crusaders for the remainder of the first 40 minutes.
Only a couple of penalty goals added to their converted try, although a 13-0 lead was still a daunting prospect for the ‘Canes.
They finally got on the board just before halftime as Ngani Laumape put on a try, and with the Beauden Barrett conversion, it was just a six-point game as the sides headed for the dressing rooms.
The Hurricanes continued on their merry way early in the second half, running on another try through Ben Lam straight after the break. The missed conversion left them a point behind though, and the Crusaders managed to whether the storm early in the second half, which turned out to be a classic.
Richie Mo’unga and Laumape then traded tries, before Sevu Reece and TJ Perenara did the same, leaving the game still in the favour of the Crusaders by just a point with 20 minutes to go.
The men from Canterbury would ultimately hold on though, with a penalty goal and some long stretches of possession allowing them to hang on.
The grand final appearance will mark the third in a row for the Crusaders, who move on to play the Jaguares with home ground advantage next weekend in Christchurch.