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Hurricanes top Super Rugby final standings but Crusaders ousted

By AFP

June 1, 2024 06:09 PM


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The Wellington Hurricanes qualified top for the Super Rugby play-offs Saturday, but perennial powerhouse the Canterbury Crusaders were eliminated in a dramatic end to the regular season.

The Hurricanes finished one point above the second-placed Blues on the standings after the Auckland side failed to clinch the bonus-point win they needed over Waikato Chiefs to claim the top spot.

They were on course to achieve that until Chiefs replacement back Josh Ioane crossed for a try in the final minute, denying the Blues a bonus point in their 31-17 victory.

Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu felt let down after his side dominated the contest, boosted by two tries from in-form loose forward Hoskins Sotutu.

"We can be happy with the win but our goal was to win with a bonus point," Tuipulotu said.

"Unfortunately we didn't do that, so that's very disappointing for us -- it's not enough to just play in patches."

Earlier, winger Salesi Rayasi crossed for a hat-trick as the Hurricanes brushed past the Otago Highlanders 41-14 in Wellington, playing the fast-paced style that has carried them to 12 wins from 14 games.

TJ Perenara was also among the try-scorers, although there was concern when the veteran scrum-half limped off with a knee injury.

It set them up with a quarter-final next week at home to the eighth-placed Melbourne Rebels, while the Blues will host Fijian Drua.

The third-ranked ACT Brumbies, who ended their campaign with a 24-19 win over Western Force in Perth, will face the Highlanders in Canberra. The fourth-placed Chiefs will meet the Queensland Reds in Hamilton.

The seven-time defending champion Crusaders were ousted when the Drua overwhelmed the Rebels 40-19 in Lautoka.

The Drua took command with three tries early in the second half, ending any chance of the Crusaders extending their seven-year run of titles, all achieved under new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson.

The Christchurch-based side have failed to fire under Robertson's successor, Rob Penney.

Their 43-10 win on Friday over Moana Pasifika was just their fourth of the season and came too late as they failed to advance to post-season play for only the second time since 2001.

Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge released a statement saying a "full performance review" would be conducted but did not single out Penney for criticism, saying no "rash decisions" would be made.

Despite losing, the Rebels did enough to qualify for their first finals match in their 14-season history.

It could also be the last game they play after Rugby Australia rejected a private bid to take over the debt-laden club and said on Thursday it would be shut down.


AFP


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