The Crusaders benefited from some dubious refereeing in the last stages of their Super Rugby semi final against the Hurricanes, running out winners 30-26.
With the Canes desperately hammering away at the line, Nic Berry missed a massive knock on by Sam Whitelock while he was contesting the ball at a ruck. That led to the home side maintaining the final possession and kicking the ball into touch for the win.
Earlier, it was set up to be a night of nigh drama as TJ Perenara and Jordan Taufua led their respective sides onto the park for milestone games. Perenara became the most capped Hurricane of all time, while Taufua played his 100th Super Rugby match.
The home side started strongly, and dominated the first half, although the opening try to Sevu Reece did involve a bit of luck. Ryan Crotty spotted no one was home after a quick turnover and kicked ahead for his winger to chase down and score.
The Crusaders looked set to take a 13-0 lead into halftime, but a beautiful kick return by Jordie Barrett set the Hurricanes up for Ngani Laumape to score right on the hooter.
After halftime, the Hurricanes flicked the switch and scored through Ben Lam. The Crusaders hit back with a try to Richie Mo’unga, but couldn’t put the visitors away as Laumape got his second off a clever chip ahead and then ricocheting the ball off his chest to score.
Reec added another but it was countered by Perenara’s clever try, and the game was all set up for a grandstand finish. Unfortunately, the Hurricanes suffered the indignity of a blown call at the finish, which ended their season.
The Crusaders now host Los Jaguares next weekend in Christchurch, after the Argentine side beat the Brumbies 38-7 in the other semi final.
Crusaders 30 (S Reece 2, R Mo’unga tries; Mo’unga 3 pen, 2 con)
Hurricanes 26 (N Laumape 2, M Proctor, T Perenara tries, B Barrett 3 con)]
HT: 13-7 Crusaders