Thompson double gets Hurricanes home over Crusaders
Jeremy Thrush (R) of the Hurricanes celebrates their win at McLean Park in Napier, New Zealand on April 5, 2014 - by Marty Melville
The unheralded lock scored the only tries in the cliffhanger match, with the Hurricanes' second win of the season over the Crusaders keeping alive their hopes of making the play-offs.
The Crusaders continue to lead the New Zealand conference, equal with the Otago Highlanders on 42 points but with a shade better differential, while the Hurricanes are one point behind on 41.
Thompson's second try was the game breaker, coming from turnover ball with seven minutes remaining in the match and with the Crusaders attacking strongly when trailing 9-11.
The big lock was first through on a Cory Jane chip kick and ran nearly 60 metres to score.
"That was awesome. It was a great effort. The boys had worked so hard on D (defence) to keep them out. I'm still trying to take it in," Hurricanes captain Jeremy Thrush said at the final whistle.
Not even the injection of Kieran Read and Dan Carter into the Crusaders in the second half was able to break the Hurricanes who appeared to be hurt least by rustiness from the June-Test break.
Their kicking game pressured the Crusaders who were indecisive under the high ball, while the Crusaders return kicks too often sailed towards dangerman Julian Savea without finding touch.
The first Hurricanes try came from Savea latching on to a Crusaders' kick, chasing his own return kick to catch Tom Taylor with the ball and with the turnover Thompson scored out wide.
Beauden Barrett landed two penalties to one by Colin Slade for the Hurricanes to lead 11-3 at the break.
Crusaders captain Ryan Crotty said they lost the game in the first half.
"The physicality wasn't quite there, our urgency wasn't there either. They were beating us to the ball, and their break down was better than us. If means we're desperate in the last two weeks," he said.
Two further Slade penalties after the break, the second just before he left the field for a concussion test which he failed, narrowed the gap to 11-9 before Thompson sealed the game for the Hurricanes.
Although the Hurricanes remain in the top six, they are disadvantaged with a bye in the final week and their one game left is away to the Chiefs next Friday.
The Crusaders have two games remaining, both at home, to the Auckland Blues and then the Highlanders.
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