Alapati Leiua scored a stunning try eight minutes from time to give the Hurricanes a big 29-26 win over the Crusaders in their Vodacom Super Rugby game in Christchurch.
Leiua received a pass from Julian Savea just on the halfway line and motored down the far touchline, beating the tackles of four defenders to give the visitors an inspired victory.
There aren’t many sides who manage to made the Crusaders defence look so ordinary but on a night where attack was the mantra for both sides, the Canes showed they can give as well as they received and were rewarded in the end.
Leiua’s try was a prime example of the entertaining nature of the match were the lead changed hands several times and some excellent tries were scored.
The game began at a frantic pace, with the Hurricanes starting off perfectly to rack up a big early lead.
After Beauden Barritt’s opening penalty, All Black Julian Savea showed just how dangerous he is as he bumped off IRB Player of the year Kieran Reid with ease, before offloading to Faifili Levave to score the opening try.
Tom Taylor managed to pull back a penalty for the home side, but it was the Canes who stretched their lead, scoring next as Levave took the ball close from a lineout, and TJ Perenara spotted a gap behind the ruck and dived over to score.
But in Christchuch such leads are few and far between, and the home side didn’t take long to right the wrongs of the opening minutes and storm back into the game.
Andy Ellis tapped a quick penalty and set Ryan Crotty off on a run down the midfield. Crotty saw there was acres of space out wide, stabbed though a kick and Johnny McNicholl pounced on the ball to score virtually untouched.
The Crusaders then worked the phases before Colin Slade sent a looping pass out to McNicholl, who scored his second in the left hand corner.
Taylor put the hosts in front just before halftime with a penalty to lead 18-17 at the break.
The Canes took the lead again in sensational fashion, as Perenara threw a long pass to Savea, who then beat one defender and chipped ahead, beating Israel Dagg to the tryline to score an amazing try.
But the one-two continued, with the Crusaders punching back as attack dominated and both sides searched for the tryline.
Slade scored next after Tom Taylor surged to the line and the recycled ball was sent to the flyhalf to narrow the gap and shortly afterwards, Taylor added a penalty to retake the lead.
The Hurricanes continued to attack and were rewarded with Leiua’s stunning piece of rugby artistry, a try that showed just how dangerous they are with ball in hand, and how a positive attacking attitude can win a game.
Tries: Johnny McNicholl (2), Colin Slade. Conversions: Tom Taylor. Penalties: Tom Taylor(3).
Tries: Alapati Leiua(2), TJ Perenara, Julian Savea. Conversions: Beauden Barrett(2). Penalties: Barrett.