Hurricanes show urgency needed to win games

16:00, Mar 09 2013
Hurricanes v Blues
Julian Savea dives over for try during the Hurricanes opening loss to the Blues.
Hurricanes v Blues
TJ Perenara gets caught in a tackle during the Hurricanes' Super Rugby opener against the Blues.
Hurricanes v Blues
Hurricanes players stand dejected after losing to the Blues in their season opener.
Hurricanes v Blues
Jeremy Thrush brings down a lineout ball during the loss to the Blues.
TJ Perenara
TJ Perenara gets a pass away against the Queensland Reds.
Andre Taylor
Andre Taylor attempts to make a tackle on a Queensland Reds player.
Julian Savea
Julian Savea kicks ahead against the Queensland Reds.
Conrad Smith
Conrad Smith (left) and Faifili Levave during the game against the Queensland Reds.
Julian Savea
Julian Savea breaks the tackle of Dan Carter.
Chris Smylie
Chris Smylie flings the ball wide for the Hurricanes.
TJ Perenara
TJ Perenara is taken in a tackle by a Crusaders player.
Conrad Smith
Conrad Smith (left) and James Marshall celebrate after the Hurricanes one-point win over the Crusaders.
Hurricanes v Highlanders
TJ Perenara tries to break through the Highlanders' tackle during his sides round five win.
Hurricanes v Highlanders
Beauden Barrett offloads to a teammate during the Hurricanes' win over the Highlanders.
Hurricanes v Highlanders
Tusi Pisi makes a break for the Hurricanes during their win over the Highlanders.
Hurricanes 2013 Season
Alapati Leiua scores for the Hurricanes during their victory over the Southern Kings in Wellington.
Hurricanes 2013 Season
Ben May scores scores for the Hurricanes during their victory over the Southern Kings in Wellington.
Hurricanes 2013 Season
Jeremy Thrush of the Hurricanes is tackled by Wimpie van der Walt of the Kings during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Kings.
Hurricanes 2013 Season
Ben May of the Hurricanes tussles with David Bulbring of the Kings in a maul during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Kings.
Hurricanes 2013 Season
Conrad Smith of the Hurricanes beats the tackle of Sergeal Petersen of the Kings to score a try during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Kings.
Hurricanes 2013 season
Tim Bateman of the Hurricanes is tackled by Pat McCutcheon, left, and Adam Ashley-Cooper of the Waratahs during their round eight clash in Wellington.
Hurricanes season 2013
All Blacks wing Julian Savea is tackled by Adam Ashley-Cooper of the Waratahs.
Hurricanes season 2013
Julian Savea breaks the tackle of Sekope Kepu in the Hurricanes clash with the Waratahs in Wellington.
Hurricanes
Ardie Savea gets a real taste of Super Rugby against the Waratahs.
Hurricanes v Waratahs
Julian Savea breaks away for a try during the Hurricanes' win over the Waratahs.
Hurricanes v Waratahs
Reggie Goodes looks for the offload as he is tackled by a Waratahs player.
Hurricanes v Waratahs
Motu Matu'u dives over for a try against the Waratahs.
Hurricanes v Waratahs
TJ Perenara prepares to kick as the Hurricanes beat the Waratahs in Wellington.
Hurricanes v Blues
A dejected Hurricanes outfit walks off the field after their loss to the Blues at Eden Park.
Hurricanes v Blues
Julian (L) and Ardie Savea share a moment during the game against the Blues.
Hurricanes v Blues
Brad Shields tries to break through the Blues' defence.
Hurricanes v Blues
Motu Matu'u prepares to charge through Chris Noakes of the Blues.
Hurricanes gallery
Captain Hurricanes fires up the fans ahead of the home game against the Western Force.
Hurricanes gallery
Andre Taylor takes on the Force defence.
Hurricanes gallery
Julian Savea on the charge against the Western Force.
Hurricanes gallery
Jeremy Thrush (No 4) celebrates the victory over the Force at the final whistle.
Hurricanes v Stormers
Tusi Pisi tries to break through a Stormers tackle.
Hurricanes v Stormers
Matt Proctor scores on debut against the Stormers.
Hurricanes v Stormers
Victor Vito prepares for a tackle during the Hurricanes loss to the Stormers in Palmerston North.
Hurricanes v Stormers
Alapati Leiua in action against the Stormers.
Hurricanes v Stormers
TJ Perenara gets the offload away.
Hurricanes gallery
Ben May charges ahead against the Bulls in Pretoria.
Hurricanes gallery
Andre Taylor is wrapped up in the tackle.
Hurricanes gallery
TJ Perenara spins the ball wide.
Hurricanes gallery
Victor Vito (No 8) crunches Bulls opposite number Pierre Spies in a tackle.
Hurricanes v Cheetahs
Tim Bateman offloads during the Hurricanes win over the Cheetahs.
Hurricanes v Cheetahs
Try-scorer TJ Perenara makes a break against the Cheetahs.
Hurricanes v Cheetahs
Stand-in captain and try-scorer Victor Vito in action against the Cheetahs.
Hurricanes v Cheetahs
Beauden Barrett makes a pass as the Hurricanes beat the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Hurricanes players (left) lament their loss to the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Ray Lee-Lo is tackled Pauliasi Manu of the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett lays down the law to his players ahead of the clash with the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Jeffery Toomaga-Allen makes a break against the Chiefs.
Hurricanes season 2013
Faifili Levave of the Hurricanes makes little ground against the Brumbies' defence during their Round 16 Super Rugby clash.
Hurricanes season 2013
Alapati Leiua of the Hurricanes runs the ball against the Brumbies in Canberra.
Hurricanes season 2013
Hurricanes prop Ben Franks tackles Peter Kimlin of the Brumbies during their Round 16 Super Rugby clash in Canberra.
Hurricanes season 2013
Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg is swamped by the Hurricanes' defence.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
TJ Perenara dots down for the Hurricanes while Chiefs captain Craig Clarke protests.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Beaudeb Barrett gets a pass away against the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Jeremy Thrush climbs high to win a lineout against the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
The Hurricanes wait on Waikato Stadium for their opponents the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Julian Savea of the Hurricanes runs the ball during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Victor Vito of the Hurricanes makes a break during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
TJ Perenara of the Hurricanes passes during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Rey Lee-Lo of the Hurricanes fends Tamati Ellison of the Highlanders off during their round 19 Super Rugby match.
Hurricanes 2013
Julian Savea in action against the Crusaders.
Hurricanes 2013
Hurricanes players celebrate after scoring a try against the Crusaders.
Hurricanes 2013
Brad Shields goes in to score a try for the Hurricanes against the Crusaders.
Hurricanes 2013
Beauden Barrett gets a kick away against the Crusaders.

Desperation saved the Hurricanes from despair on Friday night.

Three losses to start the season would have been near terminal for playoff aspirations.

But, thanks to Alapati Leiua's match-winning intercept, the Canes came back from the brink to claim their crucial first win of the year and inflict a 29-28 defeat on the deflated Crusaders, who slumped to successive losses.

"It was a relief when he got that intercept," explosive Hurricanes wing Julian Savea said.

Mark Hammett may look back on Leiua's moment of instinctive brilliance as season-defining. Crusaders replacement Adam Whitelock won't rush to review the tape of his ambitious pass, though the visitors failed to take two other vital late chances.

"It was about time we got out of jail on the other side of the ledger," said Victor Vito, who produced another standout effort in his 50th match after shifting to his favoured position at No 8.

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For nearly 70-minutes Beauden Barrett's boot was all that kept the Canes in the enthralling contest. Vito's grunt, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen's scrummaging and Julian Savea's powerhouse antics - Israel Dagg will have nightmares of being steamrolled by the big bus - were other key figures. But it never felt like enough.

This was more than just four competition points for Hammett's men.

Underwhelming losses to the Blues and Reds had rocked their confidence.

It's too early to say they have turned the corner but they can only grow from here. Getting off the start line is often the hardest part.

Leaky defence, poor execution and accuracy, wayward passing and conceding four-tries-to-two all suggest the Canes have plenty to work on. Yet somehow Hammett's men escaped. This could be the spark they needed.

A stuttering attack is another concern. Last year the Canes scored the most tries in the competition. In three games this year, they've scored just three - one from an intercept and one from penalty try against the Blues.

"It's far from a perfect performance," Vito said. "We've beaten a good Crusaders team but we certainly made it hard on ourselves. We're pushing those passes that have plagued us the last couple of weeks. As soon as we get that balance right, because we do need to play when we get those opportunities, we'll be away."

Hammett has headaches at hooker, too, after All Blacks rake Dane Coles' 50th match ended prematurely with an ankle injury. His replacement, Motu Matu'u, then left the field after typically huge hit on Crusaders lock Dominic Bird. Ash Dixon is the last man standing.

For Todd Blackadder's side, the cruel defeat sought to extenuate the fine line between success and failure.

Of most concern will be the inability to shutout the Canes when it mattered most. Whether coming from behind or protecting a lead, signature Crusaders teams of old have ground out victories, time and again.

It's unclear if this year's team has those capabilities. They haven't shown it yet.

Dan Carter's sliced a dropped kick from in front of the sticks and captain Kieran Read's fumble which bombed Matt Todd's late strike were chances you expect to be taken at this level. Eleven penalties to three is also unacceptable discipline.

Despite the improved performance, some loyal Crusaders supporters are already writing off this side's title credentials, but, with the Bulls in Christchurch next week, Read remained realistic.

"We got in the position to win it by throwing the ball around and playing with intensity. As the game gets tighter you've got to be smarter. We'll certainly look at that," Read said.

"Our effort was there at the end but the intercept and the amount of penalties we'd given away, that really set the tone. You can't give away three points like we did all night. They made us pay."

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