WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Center David Havili kicked a dropped goal in the second minute of golden point extra time Sunday to give four-time defending champions the Crusaders a 30-27 win over the Hurricanes in Super Rugby Aotearoa.
The Crusaders came close to rare back-to-back defeats. After last weekend’s shock loss to the unfancied Highlanders, they were fully stretched by the last-placed Hurricanes who led 27-20 before a late try to winger Sevu Reece left the teams locked 27-27 at fulltime.
Hurricanes stand-in captain James Blackwell won the toss and chose to receive the kick-off but to play into the wind in extra time in which the first team to score would win. A charged-down kick saw the Hurricanes almost immediately give up possession and Havili stepped up to land the dropped goal from close range.
Golden point extra time was introduced to the New Zealand domestic competition for the first time this season and hadn’t been used until this weekend’s seventh round when both matches went to extra time.
On Saturday, a long-range penalty by All Blacks fullback Damian McKenzie in the 86th minute gave the Hamilton-based Chiefs a 26-23 win over the Dunedin-based Highlanders in the first match to be decided in golden point extra-time.
Flyhalf Josh Ioane converted his own try in the 70th minute, then kicked a penalty as the Highlanders rallied from 23-13 to level the score at 23-23 at the end of normal time.
McKenzie missed a penalty just after the fulltime siren but made amends when he landed the winning goal from a similar position in the sixth minute of extra-time.
On Sunday, an early try-scoring double by All Blacks winger George Bridge gave the Crusaders a 14-3 lead after 25 minutes. The Hurricanes, fifth-placed in the five-team competition looked outclassed, but were rallied by a superb performance by their captain, All Blacks backrower Ardie Savea and center Ngani Laumape.
Laumape scored a 28th minute try and former All Blacks winger Julian Savea added another three minutes later as the Hurricanes leveled the scores 17-17 at halftime.
The Hurricanes scored again through winger Wes Goosen while Laumape was in the sin bin for foul play in the 44th minute. They led until the 62nd minute when Reece leveled the scores to force the match into extra time.
“We watched the Highlanders-Chiefs match at the Highlanders last night and wondered what it would be like to play extra time,” Crusaders captain Scott Barrett said. “It played out again tonight and just goes to show how close this competition is.”
The match took a heavy injury toll on both teams. The Crusaders lost All Blacks center Jack Goodhue and prop Joe Moody, in his 100th match, to serious injuries while the Hurricanes lost Ardie Savea at a crucial time.
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