Weepu fires Hurricanes to Super 14 win over Crusaders

A superb kicking display by Wellington flyhalf Piri Weepu carried the Hurricanes to a 30-24 win over the Canterbury Crusaders on Friday.

Weepu landed three penalties and three conversions as the Hurricanes produced their best performance of the Super 14 season to snap a seven-match losing streak against their fierce New Zealand rivals.

“It was a great win for us, it’s always tough to play the Crusaders, no matter where you play them,” Wellington skipper Rodney So’oialo said in a televised interview.

The Crusaders outscored the Hurricanes four tries to three but were outplayed for most of the match in Christchurch, leading for just three minutes.

“It was a hell of a battle out there,” Crusaders captain Richie McCaw said.

“We let them get away from us in the first half ... they got the momentum and we left it a wee bit too late.”

The Hurricanes opened the scoring with two Weepu penalties, but the Crusaders scored the first try through centre Casey Laulala.

Colin Slade converted to put them briefly ahead but the Hurricanes piled on 10 unanswered points to lead 17-6 at halftime, with teenage winger Zac Guildford scoring in the corner and Weepu adding the extras from the sideline then a third penalty.

The Crusaders pulled back to within four points when lock Brad Thorn charged over, but Wellington again took control.

Scrumhalf Alby Mathewson scooped up a loose Crusaders’ pass to score, then centre Ma’a Nonu burst through a hole on the hour, giving the visitors a commanding 30-12 led.

The defending champions finished strongly with Jared Payne and Thomas Waldrom both scoring tries to give them two bonus points, but not enough for the win.—Reuters