It seems golden point games are like buses: just when you think it’ll never come, two arrive at once. After last night’s win by the Chiefs over the Highlanders, it was the Hurricanes and Crusaders turn to work a bit of overtime on a beautiful Wellington afternoon, which saw the defending Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa champions triumph 30-27.
David Havili was the hero for the Crusaders, coolly slotting a 30 metre dropped goal to finish the game after only a minute of golden point extra time. It capped off a titanic struggle between the two great rivals, which saw an outstanding performance by Hurricanes captain Ardie Savea, who was clearly enjoying being back at his favoured openside position.
Although the home side had a great start to the game that reaped a Jordie Barrett penalty to open the scoring, the Crusaders struck back straight away through All Black winger George Bridge. He bagged his second after 25 minutes, before some stunning teamwork saw the Hurricanes hit back straight away through Ngani Laumape. After Richie Mo’unga nudged another penalty goal, Julian Savea then wound back the clock after James Blackwell pinched the resulting kickoff and sent the big winger in for his first try for the Hurricanes since 2017.
Wes Goosen then ensured the Hurricanes grabbed the lead after the break with a well taken try, then Jordie Barrett extended the lead with a penalty. Mo’unga calmly moved the Crusaders into position for another penalty, then some great work by Leicester Fainga’anuku sent Sevu Reece in to level the scores.
Jordie Barrett had the big Wellington crowd roaring his name as he attempted to win the game with a 63 metre penalty attempt, but while his shot had the legs, it faded away to the left of the posts. After full time was called, both teams mustered the strength to keep going but Havili made sure they weren’t out there for much longer after a charge down gave him the ball more or less straight away for his dropped goal winner.
The win came at a pretty heavy cost at first glance, though. Centre Jack Goodhue had to be helped from the field early and Joe Moody was cruelly injured in what was his 100th game for the Crusaders. Ardie Savea bravely battled on despite what looked to be a nasty leg injury for the Hurricanes before leaving the field after an hour.
Savea will have an extra week to recover as the Hurricanes have the bye next weekend. The Crusaders face a stiff challenge against the in-form Chiefs in Hamilton.
Crusaders 30 (George Bridge 2, Sevu Reece tries; Richie Mo’unga 2 con, pen, David Havili drop goal)
Hurricanes 27 (Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Wes Goosen tries; Jordie Barrett 3 con, 2 pen)