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Crusaders keep Super Rugby three-peat dream alive

Ronan O’Gara’s side are on track for a hat-trick of titles.

On track: Crusaders players celebrate.
On track: Crusaders players celebrate.

THE CRUSADERS STAYED on track for a third consecutive Super Rugby title after a thrilling 30-26 semi-final win over the Hurricanes on Saturday.

Scott Robertson’s men will now meet the Jaguares in the showdown after a hard-fought victory in a memorable clash in Christchurch.

A pair of tries from Sevu Reece and one from Richie Mo’unga ensured the Crusaders were triumphant despite a two-try retort from Ngani Laumape and one apiece from Ben Lam and TJ Perenara.

The hosts raced into a 13-0 lead, with Mo’unga kicking two penalties either side of Reece’s excellent try after he collected Ryan Crotty’s probing kick.

The Hurricanes proved hard to shake and Laumape drove over the line, allowing Beauden Barrett’s conversion to further reduce the deficit before the interval.

And that gap shrunk to a single point when Lam put the finishing touches on a fine team move at the start of the second half. 

However, Mo’unga added the extras to his own try three minutes later as the Crusaders, who finished top of the overall standings, sought to reassert their authority.

Source: SUPER RUGBY/YouTube

Although the Hurricanes again hit back through the impressive Laumape, Reece matched the New Zealand international’s personal try tally soon after.

A back-and-forth contest continued to entertain as Perenara threw a dummy pass before dotting down to mark his record-breaking 127th Hurricanes appearance in style.

Ronan O'Gara Still kicking: Crusaders assistant coach Ronan O'Gara before the game. Source: Photosport/John Davidson/INPHO

And it was not until Mo’unga split the posts with a late penalty that a classic encounter was finally settled in favour of the reigning champions. 

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