Hurricanes beat Highlanders 33-31 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hurricanes beat Highlanders 33-31

24/04/2010 08:08:05 PM Comments (0)

The Wellington Hurricanes preserved a faint chance of reaching the Super 14 rugby semi-finals by beating the Otago Highlanders 33-31 on Saturday in a match in which both teams had four-try bonus points by halftime.

Fifty points were scored in the first half - the Hurricanes led 26-24 at halftime - and each side scored a further try in the second half before the Hurricanes sealed their fifth win from 10 games.

Flyhalf Aaron Cruden scored a try and set up two others for the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes need to win all of their remaining games, against the Waikato Chiefs, Queensland Reds and New South Wales Waratahs, to have any hope of reaching the semis.

The narrow difference between the teams on Saturday ultimately was Cruden - the New Zealand under-20 flyhalf. He kicked four conversions while Otago fullback Israel Dagg managed three.

"It was reasonable fun in the first half but in the second half we lost a bit of structure," Wellington captain Andrew Hore said.

"We're disappointed about letting them back in the game in the second spell rather than putting them out of it."

The first half was full of tit-for-tat scoring with first the Hurricanes touching down, then the Highlanders replying.

In the second half both teams lost their momentum until Wellington centre Ma'a Nonu scored a 70th-minute try.

Even then, Otago hit back with a try to substitute Bronson Murray in the third minute of stoppage time.

"The key messages tonight were to enjoy ourselves and to play with attitude for 80 minutes and scoring a try in the final minute was pleasing," Highlanders captain Jimmy Cowan said.

Wellington flanker Karl Lowe scored in the third minute and Cruden converted for a 7-0 lead but Otago hit back within five minutes with a try to Cowan, converted by Dagg.

Hurricanes lock Michael Paterson put his side ahead 12-7 after 10 minutes but, again, Otago hit back with a try to backrower Alando Soakai. Wellington halfback Tyson Keats increased the lead with a 22nd-minute try but the Highlanders responded through winger Ben Smith.

Cruden crossed for the Hurricanes in the 36th minute but Otago got a try before halftime via prop Jason Rutledge.

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