The Hurricanes came close to paying the price for resting numerous stars as they needed to produce a 16-point comeback to beat the lowly Sunwolves 29-23 in Super Rugby.
All Blacks Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett and Ardie Savea were all rested by the visitors for the trip to Japan, and the decision to rotate appeared set to backfire as the Sunwolves stormed into a 23-7 lead thanks a double from Semisi Masirewa and the boot of Hayden Parker.
It was 23-10 to the hosts at half-time and, despite Ben Lam and Chase Tiatia going over after the restart, the side with the worst record in Super Rugby still led going into the final quarter of an hour.
But the Hurricanes’ pressure told with 12 minutes to go as Wes Goosen touched down with the decisive try following a kick and chase.
— Hurricanes Rugby (@Hurricanesrugby) April 19, 2019
The Hurricanes remain second in the New Zealand Conference, in which the Chiefs are second bottom having missed out on the chance to leapfrog the Blues as a comeback against the Lions fell short.
Two penalties from the boot of Elton Jantjies made it 6-0 after 30 minutes. Carlu Sadie barged over and Aphiwe Dyantyi then brilliantly picked up a grubber kick to dot down and make it 20-0 at the break.
Chiefs lost full-back Jack Debreczeni as he was taken off on a stretcher in a neck brace but they found momentum upon the resumption.
Sean Wainui and Nepo Laulala crossed within three minutes of each other and the Lions’ lead was just three points when Tumua Manu went over four minutes from time and Marty McKenzie converted.
However, the Chiefs turned the ball over in their own territory in the closing moments and Jantjies made the game safe with a drop goal that secured a 23-17 win.
Last season’s beaten finalists are second in South Africa Conference, the Sharks surrendering their grip on that spot in a 21-7 loss to the Reds that marked a third defeat in four matches for Robert du Preez’s men.
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