30 May 2015

Crusaders beat Canes to keep playoff hopes alive

6:16 pm on 30 May 2015

Nemani Nadolo provided the impetus the Crusaders needed to keep their slim Super Rugby playoffs alive as they stopped the Hurricanes from sealing top spot for at least another week with a 35-18 win in Nelson.

The Crusaders' winger Nemani Nadolo celebrates his try.

The Crusaders' winger Nemani Nadolo celebrates his try. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Fijian winger was at his blockbusting best as he set up two tries and scored another for the home side, while All Blacks first-five Dan Carter had a superb kicking game, slotting three penalties and three conversions.

Halfback Mitchell Drummond, winger Nafi Tuitavake, flanker Matt Todd and Nadolo all scored for the Crusaders, who still have an outside chance of making the playoffs, depending on the results of other matches.

The Hurricanes, who remain top of the table, could have sewn up first place and home advantage throughout the playoffs if they had won but fell to only their second loss of the season.

The Hurricanes lead the standings on 57 points, 13 ahead of the Brumbies and Chiefs.

The Chiefs play the Highlanders, who are just one point behind the Dave Rennie coached side, tonight in Invercargill, where both teams have the chance to erode the Hurricanes lead.

The bonus point victory lifts the Crusaders to eighth place five points outside the top six playoff spots.

The Crusaders had their pride wounded when they were beaten up the New South Wales Waratahs pack last week, and they responded last night, tearing into the collision area.

Coupled with a smart kicking game from Carter they pinned the Hurricanes back in their own territory for the first 30 minutes and took points when they were offered with three penalties and Drummond's try, which was set up by Nadolo.

Centre Robbie Fruean, however, was controversially sinbinned for a dangerous tackle in the 30th minute and the Hurricanes capitalised with hooker Dane Coles scoring in the corner to add to first-five Otere Black's early penalty.

The Hurricanes reduced their 16-8 halftime deficit immediately after the break when they swept down field from a clever kick by Ma'a Nonu with Ardie Savea finishing off the try that was converted by Black.

It was the last time they were really in the match and the Crusaders sealed the game with tries to winger Tuitavake and Todd, after Nadolo had broken another midfield tackle, before the big Fijian flopped on a superb cross-kick from Carter for the bonus-point try.

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