Paulo breaks 'Canes hearts
April 2, 2010
Ti'i Paulo's late score clinched a draw for the Crusaders
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Ti'i Paulo dealt a major blow to the Hurricanes' play-off chances with a controversial last minute try secured a 26-26 draw for the Crusaders.
The Wellington side led 26-21 with five minutes remaining, but after surviving five minutes of sustained pressure and with the hooter having sounded a cascade of bodies flopped at the Hurricanes try line. South African referee Jonathan Kaplan went upstairs to determine if there was any reason why he should not award a try and whether the Crusaders' ball carrier was on his feet going over.
Television Match Official Glenn Newman confirmed the ball carrier was on his feet and that he could not give any reason not to award the try. Dan Carter missed the touchline conversion as the hosts left with a share of the spoils, but it will undoubtedly be the Crusaders who will be the happier side after a thrilling encounter.
They raced into an early lead with George Whitelock crashing over for the opening try after three minutes, following a powerful burst from Robbie Fruean. Carter missed the conversion, but made up for it with a penalty that took his Super 14 total to 999 points.
And he passed the 1,000 benchmark with a second penalty, joining Stirling Mortlock in the four figures club. A desperate try-saving tackle by Cory Jane denied Sean Maitland another Crusaders try, but two ex-Hurricanes combined to give them a deserved second as Fruean fed Zac Guildford scoring and Carter converting to make the score 18-0 after 26 minutes.
The 'Canes came back into the match with their big, fast men getting on to the ball with Hosea Gear and Victor Vito prominent. And they got back into it at the end of an enthralling passage of play as Nonu crossed after a sweeping back move and a fine solo finish from 30 metres.
Vito and Gear combined for another try as Conrad Smith supplied Jeremy Thrush with the ball and he finished well for Willie Ripia to convert. Piri Weepu took over the kicking after Ripia was replaced, and he landed four penalties after the break as the Hurricanes sensed victory.
Carter had landed one kick in reply, but with the win in their sights the 2008 champions fought back to deny them at the death.