Australian Super 15 leaders stay on top after victory at home.
The ACT Brumbies fended off a late comeback from New Zealand’s Wellington Hurricanes to win 30-23 to consolidate their lead in the Super Rugby Australian conference in Canberra.
Jake White’s Brumbies led by 14 points with 15 minutes left but were pushed out when the Hurricanes scrum-half TJ Perenara scored a converted try for his team to trail by seven points.
But just when the Hurricanes looked set to go on with it inside the final 10 minutes the Brumbies’ defence held out to protect their lead and stretch their conference lead to nine points over the Queensland Reds.
The Reds will get the chance to keep in touch with the Brumbies should they beat the Melbourne Rebels in Brisbane on Saturday.
The loss has likely cost the Hurricanes the chance of making the playoffs with three New Zealand derbies left.
The Brumbies led 11-3 early on, through a try from scrum-half Nic White, but a converted try by Reynold Lee-Lo got the Hurricanes back to 11-10.
Christian Lealiifano gave the home side some breathing space with a penalty goal to lead 14-10 at half-time.
The Brumbies looked to have the match in their keeping after a try to blindside flanker Peter Kimlin with 20 minutes left.
But the Hurricanes finished strongly, first through a converted try to Perenara and then a disallowed TMO decision in the corner to captain Conrad Smith.
The Hurricanes stormed the Brumbies line and turned down several penalty shots at goal in pursuit of an equalising converted try before an accidental offside allowed the Brumbies to escape with a narrow win.
Lealiifano kicked a total of 20 points, with six penalties and a conversion with his only blemish being a tough conversion attempt following White’s first-half try.
“To get that win is super important for our season and it allows the boys to really focus on the Rebels next week,” Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen said.
“The attitude tonight was outstanding and times there we just had to graft for points but that’s the disciplined play you need.”
Captain Conrad Smith said ill-discipline cost his Hurricanes victory.
“We probably left it a bit late, but when we held the ball we played some pretty good rugby and there were a lot of penalties and that was from our mistakes for a lot of the time,” Smith said.
“That discipline costs you and it’s a tough competition but we just have to take it on the chin now.”
The Brumbies face the Rebels in Canberra next week, while the Hurricanes will have three weeks off in the international break before tackling defending champions Waikato Chiefs in Hamilton on June 28.