Hurricanes coach 'proud' after tough win
March 9, 2013
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett knows his side snatched an unlikely victory © Getty Images
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett hailed his side's character and grit after they snatched a dramatic 29-28 Super Rugby victory over the Crusaders.
It was the Hurricanes' first win of the season and came courtesy of an intercept try in the 73rd minute by Alapati Leiua and the match-winning conversion from Beauden Barrett who had a perfect night with the boot slotting five penalties and two conversions.
"It was a hard last 10 minutes. I'm not sure you could do too many of those," said a delighted Hammett. "The character and grit, as always, was outstanding. So we're pretty proud of that."
After two defeats and some faltering back-line play, the Hurricanes were determined to return to what they do best - attack with ball in hand. But in the first half they had to rely on Barrett's boot to give them a 12-7 half-time lead before Julian Savea profited from a wayward Crusaders line-out then Leiua latched on to Adam Whitelock's pass.
"We wanted to play more footy this week which didn't always mean the right decisions. But we just felt in terms of getting that belief back we wanted to hold on to the ball a bit more," Hammett said.
There were still some handling issues, two of which resulted in two of the Crusaders' four tries when Israel Dagg and Dan Carter finished off counter-attacks from turnover ball.
"While I wouldn't say they were 14-point turnarounds there were a couple of times when we were hard on attack and through some skill from some outstanding players in Dagg and DC (Carter) they hurt us down the other end," said the former Crusaders hooker.
Leiua timed his run to perfection to snatch his try though.
"They almost done me the first half with the same move," Leiua said. "I thought it was a good read but I rushed them the first time and they got outside me. But the second time I had a look and read it properly."
The victory, the second in succession over Todd Blackadder's men, clearly delighted the winger.
"It's like playing in a final when I play the Crusaders so beating them ... we're pretty happy," Leiua said. "The boys turned up and played well. The last couple of weeks we've been kicking heaps. We came out tonight and wanted to throw the ball around and show them how good we are."
The win has come at a cost though with hookers Dane Coles and Motu Matu'u suffering injuries. Coles, in his 50th game for the franchise, hurt his left ankle in the opening minutes of the second half, while Matu'u suffered a rib injury late in the game which resulted in uncontested scrums.
It means Ash Dixon is the only recognised hooker fit at this stage for the Hurricanes' next game against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday.
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