July 21, 2017 / 12:10 PM / 5 months ago

Rugby-Hurricanes grind down Brumbies to reach Super semis

July 21 (Reuters) - Wellington Hurricanes’ Wes Goosen scored two tries as they kept their title defence alive with a 35-16 win over the ACT Brumbies in a hard-fought Super Rugby quarter-final in Canberra on Friday.

TJ Perenara also crossed for the Hurricanes and Jordie Barrett grabbed a try, three penalties and three conversions to send the champions into a semi-final against the Lions or the Sharks, who meet in Johannesburg on Saturday.

A victory for the top-seeded Lions would mean a trip to South Africa for the Hurricanes next week but if the Durban-based Sharks manage a surprise victory, the semi-final would take place in the New Zealand capital.

The Brumbies, heavy underdogs after winning the Australian conference with a 6-9 record, made a great start when winger James Dargaville crossed with less than five minutes on the clock at Canberra stadium.

It looked ominous for the hosts when Hurricanes winger Goosen waltzed past three tacklers three minutes later to level but the next two scores also went to the Brumbies.

Flyhalf Wharenui Hawera edged them back ahead with a penalty and hooker Josh Mann-Rea rumbled over in the 13th minute off the back of a rolling maul to give his side a 13-5 lead.

That gave the home fans hope that the Brumbies might become the first Australian Super Rugby team to beat a New Zealand side in 26 attempts this season but the Hurricanes were soon on the front foot again.

They hit back in bizarre circumstances when a Perenara pass bounced off the head of prop Ben May and over the try line with Jordie Barrett reacting first to touch down.

Two penalties from Barrett, whose older brother Beauden also played, either side of the break put the Hurricanes 18-16 ahead nine minutes into the second half despite prop Jeff To‘omaga-Allen spending 10 minutes in the sin-bin for a reckless tackle.

Jordie Barrett added his third penalty to extend the lead as the Hurricanes finally got some reward for their pressure in the 66th minute, but it was not until Perenara went over three minutes later that they were able to move clear.

All Blacks and Hurricanes hooker Dane Coles, who had come off the bench for his first action since March, showed he had not lost any of his skill with a sidestep and a fend to send the scrumhalf sprinting for the line.

Brumbies back Christian Lealiifano made a welcome return as a halftime replacement less than a year after being diagnosed with leukemia but the home side were unable to extend coach Stephen Larkham’s final season at the team. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Ken Ferris)

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