Fumbling Crusaders downed by Hurricanes

The Blues' Bryn Hall chases down Hurricane Beauden Barrett.
The Blues' Bryn Hall chases down Hurricane Beauden Barrett.
The Hurricanes Julian Savea gets away from Blues Lolagi Visinia.
The Hurricanes Julian Savea gets away from Blues Lolagi Visinia.
Conrad Smith of the Hurricanes scores a try despite the efforts of the Rebels' Tom English.
Conrad Smith of the Hurricanes scores a try despite the efforts of the Rebels' Tom English.
Ben Tameifuna of the Chiefs steps out of the tackles of Ardie Savea (left) and Jeffery Toomaga-Allen of the Hurricanes during his side's round 18 Super Rugby win in Hamilton.
Ben Tameifuna of the Chiefs steps out of the tackles of Ardie Savea (left) and Jeffery Toomaga-Allen of the Hurricanes during his side's round 18 Super Rugby win in Hamilton.
Alapati Leiua of the Hurricanes is tackled by Bryce Hegarty of the Rebels.
Alapati Leiua of the Hurricanes is tackled by Bryce Hegarty of the Rebels.
Hadleigh Parkes from the Hurricanes celebrates a try during his side's Super Rugby clash against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Hadleigh Parkes from the Hurricanes celebrates a try during his side's Super Rugby clash against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Jeffery Toomaga-Allen of the Hurricanes passes whilst being tackled by Luke Jones of the Rebels.
Jeffery Toomaga-Allen of the Hurricanes passes whilst being tackled by Luke Jones of the Rebels.
Asaeli Tikoirotuma from the Chiefs during his side's 24-16 win over the Hurricanes in Hamilton.
Asaeli Tikoirotuma from the Chiefs during his side's 24-16 win over the Hurricanes in Hamilton.
Ryan Crotty, captain of the Crusaders, is tackled by Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes during their Super Rugby clash at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Ryan Crotty, captain of the Crusaders, is tackled by Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes during their Super Rugby clash at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Jeremy Thrush of the Hurricanes charges into Liam Messam of the Chiefs with the assistance of Ben Franks (left) during the round 18 clash between the two sides at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
Jeremy Thrush of the Hurricanes charges into Liam Messam of the Chiefs with the assistance of Ben Franks (left) during the round 18 clash between the two sides at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
Conrad Smith of the Hurricanes reacts after being sent to the sin bin against the Rebels in Melbourne.
Conrad Smith of the Hurricanes reacts after being sent to the sin bin against the Rebels in Melbourne.
Andy Ellis of the Crusaders and Dane Coles of the Hurricanes scuffle during their round 17 Super Rugby match.
Andy Ellis of the Crusaders and Dane Coles of the Hurricanes scuffle during their round 17 Super Rugby match.
Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes is tackled by Chiefs captain Aaron Cruden during the round 18 fixture at Waikato Stadium.
Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes is tackled by Chiefs captain Aaron Cruden during the round 18 fixture at Waikato Stadium.
Andre Taylor of the Hurricanes evades the tackle of Kane Douglas of the Waratahs.
Andre Taylor of the Hurricanes evades the tackle of Kane Douglas of the Waratahs.
Kurtley Beale of the Waratahs meets some stern Hurricanes defence in Sydney.
Kurtley Beale of the Waratahs meets some stern Hurricanes defence in Sydney.
Dan Carter of the Crusaders looks to make a break against the Hurricanes during his first Super Rugby appearance of the season.
Dan Carter of the Crusaders looks to make a break against the Hurricanes during his first Super Rugby appearance of the season.
Julian Savea celebrates the Hurricanes' win over the Crusaders during their Round 17 Super Rugby match at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Julian Savea celebrates the Hurricanes' win over the Crusaders during their Round 17 Super Rugby match at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Jeffery Toomaga-Allen of the Hurricanes scores a try against the Waratahs in Sydney.
Jeffery Toomaga-Allen of the Hurricanes scores a try against the Waratahs in Sydney.
Hurricanes Conrad Smith and Cory Jane chase after the Waratahs' Rob Horne.
Hurricanes Conrad Smith and Cory Jane chase after the Waratahs' Rob Horne.
Chris Feauai-Sautia of the Reds looks dejected as the Hurricanes players celebrate another try in Wellington.
Chris Feauai-Sautia of the Reds looks dejected as the Hurricanes players celebrate another try in Wellington.
Hurricanes flanker Ardie Savea celebrates his try against the Reds at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Hurricanes flanker Ardie Savea celebrates his try against the Reds at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Reds halfback Will Genia, right, tries to get to the ball ahead of Hurricanes winger Julian Savea.
Reds halfback Will Genia, right, tries to get to the ball ahead of Hurricanes winger Julian Savea.
Conrad Smith of the Hurricanes and James Horwill of the Reds share a moment's silence to mark Anzac Day.
Conrad Smith of the Hurricanes and James Horwill of the Reds share a moment's silence to mark Anzac Day.
The Hurricanes and Bulls packs get ready to engage at McLean Park in Napier under the gaze of referee Steve Walsh.
The Hurricanes and Bulls packs get ready to engage at McLean Park in Napier under the gaze of referee Steve Walsh.
Julian Savea makes a break for the Hurricanes against the Bulls in Napier.
Julian Savea makes a break for the Hurricanes against the Bulls in Napier.
Hurricane Brad Shields is wrapped up by a swarming Bulls defence at McLean Bark.
Hurricane Brad Shields is wrapped up by a swarming Bulls defence at McLean Bark.
Jeremy Thrush shows his delight at the final whistle as the Hurricanes beat the Bulls.
Jeremy Thrush shows his delight at the final whistle as the Hurricanes beat the Bulls.
Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara spins a lovely pass from a ruck against the Crusaders.
Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara spins a lovely pass from a ruck against the Crusaders.
Alapati Leiua goes over to score the match-winning try for the Hurricanes against the Crusaders.
Alapati Leiua goes over to score the match-winning try for the Hurricanes against the Crusaders.
Hurricanes centurion Conrad Smith celebrates a much-needed win for his team over the Crusaders.
Hurricanes centurion Conrad Smith celebrates a much-needed win for his team over the Crusaders.
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett congratulates Tim Bateman after the his side beat the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett congratulates Tim Bateman after the his side beat the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Conrad Smith poses in front of a fan's banner celebrating his 100 Super Rugby matches.
Conrad Smith poses in front of a fan's banner celebrating his 100 Super Rugby matches.
Halfback Chris Smylie makes a break down the sideline as Julian Savea calls for the pass.
Halfback Chris Smylie makes a break down the sideline as Julian Savea calls for the pass.
James Marshall grabs Dane Coles around the face after a Hurricanes try.
James Marshall grabs Dane Coles around the face after a Hurricanes try.
Conrad Smith high-fives Motu Matu'u after the big hooker scored against the Cheetahs.
Conrad Smith high-fives Motu Matu'u after the big hooker scored against the Cheetahs.
Conrad Smith breaks through a Hurricanes banner as he runs onto the field for his 100th match.
Conrad Smith breaks through a Hurricanes banner as he runs onto the field for his 100th match.
Hurricanes players cannot hide their dejection after losing to the Brumbies at home.
Hurricanes players cannot hide their dejection after losing to the Brumbies at home.
Beauden Barrett makes a break for the Hurricanes against the Brumbies in Wellington.
Beauden Barrett makes a break for the Hurricanes against the Brumbies in Wellington.
Blade Thomson goes over the score against the Brumbies in Wellington.
Blade Thomson goes over the score against the Brumbies in Wellington.
Adam Hill of the Hurricanes is tackled by Jesse Mogg of the Brumbies in Wellington.
Adam Hill of the Hurricanes is tackled by Jesse Mogg of the Brumbies in Wellington.
Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara attempts to toe the ball forward during the second half against the Stormers.
Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara attempts to toe the ball forward during the second half against the Stormers.
Canes wing Cory Jane is all smiles after scoring in Port Elizabeth.
Canes wing Cory Jane is all smiles after scoring in Port Elizabeth.
Beauden Barrett converts Cory Jane's try from the sideline.
Beauden Barrett converts Cory Jane's try from the sideline.
Julian Savea crosses the line to score against the Stormers.
Julian Savea crosses the line to score against the Stormers.
Hadleigh Parkes evades the tackle of a Stormers defender in Round 3.
Hadleigh Parkes evades the tackle of a Stormers defender in Round 3.
Conrad Smith leads out the Hurricanes for their opening Super Rugby game against the Sharks in Durban.
Conrad Smith leads out the Hurricanes for their opening Super Rugby game against the Sharks in Durban.
Halfback TJ Perenara looks to generate some quick ball against the Sharks.
Halfback TJ Perenara looks to generate some quick ball against the Sharks.
Marty Banks of the Hurricanes out jumps Ryan Kankowski of the Sharks.
Marty Banks of the Hurricanes out jumps Ryan Kankowski of the Sharks.
Adam Hill takes on the Sharks defence in Durban.
Adam Hill takes on the Sharks defence in Durban.

It might be a good thing that the Crusaders jumped on a plane in the early hours of this morning for South Africa.

Their departure will save them from having to witness the likely backlash to what was yet again another below-par performance at AMI Stadium last night.

"I'm sick of paying money to watch these guys pretend to be rugby players," was the remark of one punter as he walked out and the harsh reality is he wasn't the only one muttering under his breath upon departure, after watching the Hurricanes spoil Kieran Read's 100th Super Rugby match party by beating the Crusaders 29-26.

Fans of the once mighty franchise are growing increasingly concerned.

Despite being heralded as one of the easybeats in the competition, the Hurricanes were far from it as they strategically dismantled the Crusaders.

The home side will once again rue missed opportunities and poor decision making which all ultimately led to their downfall, as they head to South Africa with a two-win, three-loss record and in desperate need of a quick turnaround.

To add salt to the wound, they board a plane for South Africa with concerns over both Read and Luke Romano, who left the game early in the first half with injuries.

Read lasted just 25 minutes in his 100th match, which he won't remember fondly on any count, though the outlook for captain was more positive post-match. He was taken off for precautionary measures after a head knock, despite initial reports of an ankle injury.

A nasty calf injury to lock Romano was more concerning and he was not expected to board the plane today, a worry for team management who have plenty of other issues to ponder, too.

The usual spark that fires the red and blacks into action when the backs are against the wall doesn't appear to be there and those moments of brilliance which often dig good sides out of dark holes are floating around somewhere back in 2010.

On more than one occasion the Crusaders had the opportunity to close the game out.

The lead chopped and changed throughout the match and even if they didn't deserve to be in a position to win in the final stages, the Crusaders were.

Yet rushed passes and some poor decision making proved their downfall again and Todd Blackadder must be tearing what is left of those silver locks out in frustration.

Sure, there were moments of brilliance - a double from Johnny McNicholl shone like a beacon - and the Hurricanes played a like a side well above their current standing in the competition.

Wing Alapati Leiua's match-winning try with five minutes remaining, when he skipped down the sideline, was breath-taking.

But the Crusaders are struggling and their defence on the outside was found wanting.

"It's not one person making mistakes all the time," halfback Andy Ellis said after last night's match.

"It's a lot of us making simple, silly mistakes at crucial times that is costing us.

"Sure we are frustrated by it and we have been trying to get it sorted, but for some reason things just aren't going our way."

Getting the answers won't be simple, but a long flight to South Africa should give the side plenty of time to try and figure out how to lift their season out of the doldrums.

The Crusaders are perennial bad starters, but with just two wins from their opening five matches and a tour of South Africa in front of them, the mountain ahead is a tall one.

Hurricanes 29 (Faifili Levave, TJ Perenara, Julian Savea, Alapati Leiua tries, Beauden Barrett 3 cons, pen) Crusaders 26 (Johnny McNicholl 2, Colin Slade tries, Tom Taylor 3 pens, con). HT: 17-18

Colin Slade shows his courage on a scything run against the Highlanders in round 19 of Super Rugby.
Colin Slade shows his courage on a scything run against the Highlanders in round 19 of Super Rugby.
Crusaders wing Nemani Nadolo on the charge against the Blues at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
Crusaders wing Nemani Nadolo on the charge against the Blues at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
Crusaders wing Nemani Nadolo fights for the ball in midair with Highlanders opposite Richard Buckman.
Crusaders wing Nemani Nadolo fights for the ball in midair with Highlanders opposite Richard Buckman.
Crusaders centre Ryan Crotty has a cut at the Blues' line with Andy Ellis in support.
Crusaders centre Ryan Crotty has a cut at the Blues' line with Andy Ellis in support.
New Zealand's top first five eighth Dan Carter on the break against the Highlanders.
New Zealand's top first five eighth Dan Carter on the break against the Highlanders.
Nemani Nadolo crashes over the line for the Crusaders under pressure from a stern Blues defence.
Nemani Nadolo crashes over the line for the Crusaders under pressure from a stern Blues defence.
Israel Dagg shows his deft touch, unloading the ball while aerial in the tackle of Highlanders wing Patrick Osbourne.
Israel Dagg shows his deft touch, unloading the ball while aerial in the tackle of Highlanders wing Patrick Osbourne.
A Crusaders horseman spurs cheers from the Christchurch crowd ahead of their clash with the Highlanders.
A Crusaders horseman spurs cheers from the Christchurch crowd ahead of their clash with the Highlanders.
Blues star Ma'a Nonu is tackled by Dan Carter of the Crusaders during their round 18 Super Rugby match in Christchurch.
Blues star Ma'a Nonu is tackled by Dan Carter of the Crusaders during their round 18 Super Rugby match in Christchurch.
Andy Ellis, centre, of the Crusaders is tackled by Blues players Tony Woodcock (left) and Luke Braid (right) during his side's win in Christchurch.
Andy Ellis, centre, of the Crusaders is tackled by Blues players Tony Woodcock (left) and Luke Braid (right) during his side's win in Christchurch.
Crusaders lock Dominic Bird powers through a number of would-be Blues defenders at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
Crusaders lock Dominic Bird powers through a number of would-be Blues defenders at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
Jerome Kaino of the Blues is tackled by Andy Ellis of the Crusaders during their round 18 Super Rugby match in Christchurch.
Jerome Kaino of the Blues is tackled by Andy Ellis of the Crusaders during their round 18 Super Rugby match in Christchurch.
Nemani Nadolo of the Crusaders dives over to score a try against the Blues in round 18.
Nemani Nadolo of the Crusaders dives over to score a try against the Blues in round 18.
Crusaders second-five Dan Carter is tackled by All Blacks team-mate and Blues prop Tony Woodcock.
Crusaders second-five Dan Carter is tackled by All Blacks team-mate and Blues prop Tony Woodcock.
Ryan Crotty, captain of the Crusaders, is tackled by Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes during their Super Rugby clash at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Ryan Crotty, captain of the Crusaders, is tackled by Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes during their Super Rugby clash at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Andy Ellis of the Crusaders and Dane Coles of the Hurricanes scuffle during their round 17 Super Rugby match.
Andy Ellis of the Crusaders and Dane Coles of the Hurricanes scuffle during their round 17 Super Rugby match.
Dan Carter of the Crusaders looks to make a break against the Hurricanes during his first Super Rugby appearance of the season.
Dan Carter of the Crusaders looks to make a break against the Hurricanes during his first Super Rugby appearance of the season.
Julian Savea celebrates the Hurricanes' win over the Crusaders during their Round 17 Super Rugby match at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Julian Savea celebrates the Hurricanes' win over the Crusaders during their Round 17 Super Rugby match at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders scores a try during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders scores a try during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders celebrates with team mate Israel Dagg after scoring a try during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders celebrates with team mate Israel Dagg after scoring a try during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Luke Whitelock of the Crusaders breaks away from the defence to score a try during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Luke Whitelock of the Crusaders breaks away from the defence to score a try during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Richie McCaw of the Crusaders takes the lineout during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Richie McCaw of the Crusaders takes the lineout during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Quade Cooper of the Reds is tackled by Wyatt Crockett of the Crusaders.
Quade Cooper of the Reds is tackled by Wyatt Crockett of the Crusaders.
Nemani Nadolo of the Crusaders dives over to score a try during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Brumbies.
Nemani Nadolo of the Crusaders dives over to score a try during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Brumbies.
Sam Whitelock of the Crusaders is tackled during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Brumbies.
Sam Whitelock of the Crusaders is tackled during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Brumbies.
Colin Slade of the Crusaders kicks a conversion during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Brumbies.
Colin Slade of the Crusaders kicks a conversion during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Brumbies.
Pat McCabe of the Brumbies is tackled by Israel Dagg of the Crusaders.
Pat McCabe of the Brumbies is tackled by Israel Dagg of the Crusaders.
Samuel Whitelock of the Crusaders has a word with a team-mate during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Samuel Whitelock of the Crusaders has a word with a team-mate during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Willi Heinz of the Crusaders in action during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Willi Heinz of the Crusaders in action during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Brodie Retallick of the Chiefs and Samuel Whitelock of the Crusaders wrestle off the ball during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Brodie Retallick of the Chiefs and Samuel Whitelock of the Crusaders wrestle off the ball during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Nemani Nandolo of the Crusaders storms down the sideline during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Nemani Nandolo of the Crusaders storms down the sideline during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Ryan Crotty swats the Cheetahs defence out of his way in Bloemfontein.
Ryan Crotty swats the Cheetahs defence out of his way in Bloemfontein.
Crusaders captain Kieran Read breaks away from the back of a maul against the Cheetahs.
Crusaders captain Kieran Read breaks away from the back of a maul against the Cheetahs.
Crusaders halfback Willi Heinz floats a pass out in his teams clash with the Cheetahs.
Crusaders halfback Willi Heinz floats a pass out in his teams clash with the Cheetahs.
Crusaders No 10 Colin Slade goes on a run against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Crusaders No 10 Colin Slade goes on a run against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock takes a charge at the Lions defence.
Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock takes a charge at the Lions defence.
George Whitelock and Matt Todd of Crusaders smash Lions No 8 Warren Whitley.
George Whitelock and Matt Todd of Crusaders smash Lions No 8 Warren Whitley.
Nepo Laulala of Crusaders tackling Faf de Klerk of Lions during the teams' clash at Ellis Park.
Nepo Laulala of Crusaders tackling Faf de Klerk of Lions during the teams' clash at Ellis Park.
The Crusaders' Kieron Fonotia and Owen Franks get to grips with Schalk van der Merwe of the Lions.
The Crusaders' Kieron Fonotia and Owen Franks get to grips with Schalk van der Merwe of the Lions.
Wyatt Crockett of the Crusaders tries to offload under pressure from Jeremy Thrush of the Hurricanes.
Wyatt Crockett of the Crusaders tries to offload under pressure from Jeremy Thrush of the Hurricanes.
Ryan Crotty makes a break for the Crusaders against the Hurricanes in Christchurch.
Ryan Crotty makes a break for the Crusaders against the Hurricanes in Christchurch.
Nemani Nadolo makes a charge down the wing for the Crusaders against the Hurricanes.
Nemani Nadolo makes a charge down the wing for the Crusaders against the Hurricanes.
The Crusaders players look dejected after losing to the Hurricanes at the death.
The Crusaders players look dejected after losing to the Hurricanes at the death.
Israel Dagg attempts to get himself out of the grasp of a Melbourne Rebel.
Israel Dagg attempts to get himself out of the grasp of a Melbourne Rebel.
Crusaders Kieran Read (left) and Nafi Tuitavake rush to congratulate hooker Ben Funnell after scoring.
Crusaders Kieran Read (left) and Nafi Tuitavake rush to congratulate hooker Ben Funnell after scoring.
Crusaders first-five Colin Slade fires a pass to his outside backs.
Crusaders first-five Colin Slade fires a pass to his outside backs.
Israel Dagg unleashes a punt downfield.
Israel Dagg unleashes a punt downfield.
Captain Kieran Read chats to his forward pack during a break against the Rebels.
Captain Kieran Read chats to his forward pack during a break against the Rebels.
Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders celebrates the final whistle following his side's comeback win over the Stormers.
Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders celebrates the final whistle following his side's comeback win over the Stormers.
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers and the Crusaders' Kieran Read await a referee's decision during their clash in Christchurch.
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers and the Crusaders' Kieran Read await a referee's decision during their clash in Christchurch.
Sam Whitelock reaches highest to claim lineout ball for the Crusaders against the Chiefs.
Sam Whitelock reaches highest to claim lineout ball for the Crusaders against the Chiefs.
The Crusaders cheerleaders get the crowd going before kick-off against the Stormers.
The Crusaders cheerleaders get the crowd going before kick-off against the Stormers.
Crusaders prop Tim Perry is taken down by Charlie Faumuina.
Crusaders prop Tim Perry is taken down by Charlie Faumuina.
Colin Slade celebrates his first half try against the Blues.
Colin Slade celebrates his first half try against the Blues.
Richie McCaw eyes up a tackle on George Moala before leaving the field injured.
Richie McCaw eyes up a tackle on George Moala before leaving the field injured.
Crusaders Colin Slade (right) and Reynold Lee-Lo fail to secure the ball under pressure from George Moala.
Crusaders Colin Slade (right) and Reynold Lee-Lo fail to secure the ball under pressure from George Moala.
Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg runs at Liam Messam during the season opener.
Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg runs at Liam Messam during the season opener.
The expression of Richie McCaw's face says it all after the Crusaders missed seven penalties in an 18-10 loss to the Chiefs.
The expression of Richie McCaw's face says it all after the Crusaders missed seven penalties in an 18-10 loss to the Chiefs.
Crusaders wing Nafi Tuitavake runs away from Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick.
Crusaders wing Nafi Tuitavake runs away from Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick.
Almost 17,000 Crusaders fans packed into Christchurch Stadium for the season opener.
Almost 17,000 Crusaders fans packed into Christchurch Stadium for the season opener.
crusaders v hurricanes
crusaders v hurricanes
DYNAMIC: Alapati Leiua evades the tackle of Crusaders forward Sam Whitelock.
DYNAMIC: Alapati Leiua evades the tackle of Crusaders forward Sam Whitelock.

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