Super Rugby returned to Levin for the first time in five years when the Hurricanes hosted the Crusaders in a pre-season fixture at the Domain on Saturday afternoon.
Despite large and vocal home support, the Hurricanes were soundly beaten 34-19 by the reigning champions. The Hurricanes started with promise and opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Vince Aso finished a Jackson Garden-Bachop bust.
The conversion would be the last Hurricanes points for more than 40 minutes.
Clinical accuracy at the breakdown and a 7-1 penalty count enabled the Crusaders to pile on the next 29 points unanswered.
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The sun was shining and a big local crowd was on hand at the #Levin Domain for the opening day of community rugby for 2019. The Hurricanes and Crusaders wider squads met in their first hit-out of the new season. The vsitors won 34-19, scoring six tries to the Hurricanes' three. For the Hurricanes, Vince Aso, @deepblueseee (both these tries here) and Callum Harkin scored tries. The @hurricanesrugby meet the Blues in the Wairarapa next Saturday.
Wing Manasa Matale sneered a double overhauling a Mitchell Hunt cross-kick for his first and pushing through the midfield for his second.
Earlier hooker Andrew Makalio stayed attached to an unstoppable lineout maul to provide the Crusaders with a lead they never lost.
Down 19-7 at halftime the Hurricanes replaced at least half of their starting XV at the interval (the contest featured rolling substitutions), but it made little difference as tries to Sevu Reece and Dallas McLeod expanded the visitors advantage. Reece and McLeod are two youngsters to watch. Reece was dynimante for Waikato in the NPC, but hit the headlines for the wrong reasons in the off season, provided a lifeline by the Crusaders, while McLeod destroyed Wellington at the National U19 tournament in Taupo.
Flanker Du’ Plessiss Kirfi added engery from the bench and crossed to make it 29-14.
When youngster Callum Harkin won a race to a grubber the Hurricanes were only down by ten with a quarter of an hour left.
Tasman fullback Will Jordan had he last say hitting a gap with speed on the shortside.
The Hurricanes next pre season match is against the Blues on Saturday.
Right/above: Horowhenua-Kapiti and All Blacks hooker Dane Coles didn’t play but met young fans and signed autographs prior to the start of the match.
Below: The Hurricanes take the field for the first time in 2019, to the applause of a big local crowd at the Levin Domain.
More Photos. For more photos go HERE