The Crusaders have clung to a three-point lead for 33 minutes to beat the Hurricanes 24-21 in a contentious Super Rugby Pacific match that featured seven lead changes.

There were six lead changes in the first half of Saturday's match in Christchurch and only two scoring plays in the second half, which outweighed the first for drama.

The excitement persisted until the last minute when the Hurricanes had a penalty which would have allowed them to level the match at 24-24 and take it to golden-point extra time. They chose instead to kick for touch in the hope of a match-winning try.

The Crusaders contested the lineout in the air and managed to wrestle the ball from the Hurricanes. The referee found a knock-on by the home team and blew for fulltime, leaving the Crusaders with a contentious win.

In a highly physical contest, the teams exchanged scores throughout the first half before the Hurricanes went to the break with an 18-17 lead.

The second half was full of action but low on actual scoring. Brothers Ardie and Julian Savea were superb ball-carriers for the Hurricanes but the Crusaders held out their attacks and were able to exert pressure in the Hurricanes' territory through a dominant scrum.

The Hurricanes extended their lead to 21-17 with a penalty in the fifth minute of the second spell. 

But the Crusaders wrested back the lead with a try to backrower Ethan Blackadder which gave them their eventual three-point margin.

"I was glad we hung tight there. We worked and we just hung on," Crusaders captain Scott Barrett said.


Hurricanes 21 (Tries: Kirifi, Moorby, Cons: Barrett 3, Pens: Barrett) Crusaders 24 (Tries: Jordan, Strange, Bridge, Blackadder, Cons: Mo’unga 2) HT: 17-18

HURRICANES: 15 Joshua Moorby, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Jamie Booth, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Du'Plessis Kirifi, 6 Te Kamaka Howden, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 James O'Reilly, 1 Pouri Rakete-Stones.
Replacements: 16 Kianu Kereru-Symes, 17 Pasilio Tosi, 18 Tevita Mafileo, 19 Caleb Delany, 20 Devan Flanders, 21 Cam Roigard, 22 Bailyn Sullivan, 23 Ruben Love.

CRUSADERS: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Scott Barrett, 3    Fletcher Newell, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Jackson, 17 George Bower, 18 Tamaiti Williams, 19 Zach Gallagher, 20 Corey Kellow, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Leicester Fainga'anuku.

Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser, Dan Waenga