Hurricanes add to Crusaders’ pain as champions lose four in a row for first time

Crusaders coach Rob Penney is under a pressure after a fourth successive loss. Picture: DJ Mills / AFP)

Crusaders coach Rob Penney is under a pressure after a fourth successive loss. Picture: DJ Mills / AFP)

Published Mar 15, 2024


Forward Justin Sangster scored a try in the final minute to give the Hurricanes a 14-10 triumph over the Crusaders on Friday and keep the Super Rugby champions winless.

The seven-time defending champion Crusaders couldn't hold out as they crashed to four straight defeats for the first time in their history, heaping more pressure on new coach Rob Penney.

Playing their first match at home in Christchurch after opening with three losses on the road, Penney's team hit the front against the competition leaders in the 71st minute through a penalty to fly-half Riley Hohepa.

However, the Crusaders were reduced to 14 men soon afterwards when reserve lock Jamie Hannah was shown a yellow card.

The Hurricanes swung onto the attack and Sangster powered over for his team's second try, which was converted by Brett Cameron.

Crusaders captain David Havili refused to use his team's long injury list as an excuse.

"We're trying really hard but it's just not sticking," the All Blacks midfield back said.

"We gave ourselves a chance in the contest tonight but we couldn't really finish it off.

"It's frustrating but the boys have to stick tight. We've got a young group turning up giving it a go and that's all we can ask for."

Regular Crusaders skipper Scott Barrett became the team's latest injury casualty when he suffered a fractured finger during their previous loss, to the Fijian Drua.

Barrett was among seven All Blacks the Crusaders had unavailable with injury this week.

The visitors made a fast start to a game dominated by bruising defence, scoring a try through their All Blacks prop Tyrel Lomax to lead 7-0 at halftime.

Crusaders back row forward Cullen Grace scored from close range to level the scores midway through the second spell but they paid for their ill-discipline over the closing stages.

Veteran Hurricanes scrum-half TJ Perenara said he relished a rare win in Christchurch against the perennial competition giants.

"We know they haven't started the season the way they wanted to but the Crusaders are always a force to be reckoned with," Perenara said.

"Winning here hasn't happened a bunch of times so we cherish each time we get one."


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