Hurricanes escape Sunwolves surprise in Super Rugby

DURBAN, South Africa (AP) — The Hurricanes avoided a surprise loss at the Sunwolves by scoring 22 unanswered points to keep in touch with the Super Rugby leaders on Friday.

The Hurricanes came back from 23-7 down in Tokyo to win 29-23 and close the gap on New Zealand conference and overall leaders the Crusaders to seven points. The Crusaders, the defending champions, have a bye weekend.

Earlier, the Lions of South Africa, finalists for the last three seasons, pulled out of a midseason slump to edge the Chiefs 23-17 after being 20-0 up in New Zealand.

The Queensland Reds registered the third straight away victory to start round 10 of the season by outsmarting the Sharks 21-14. It was the Reds' first win in South Africa in four years and the first in Durban over the Sharks in 15 years.

The Reds crossed for the first of their three tries inside two minutes when flyhalf Bryce Hegarty sliced through the Sharks backline to score between the posts. Center Chris Feauai-Sautia had the Reds' second in the 20th, set up by captain and center partner Samu Kerevi. Kerevi also set in motion the move that led to the third try for scrumhalf Tate McDermott and a 21-7 lead.

No. 8 Daniel du Preez scored late for the Sharks, who had a chance at stealing an undeserved draw at the end. But Reds flanker Liam Wright won a penalty at a ruck with the Sharks bearing down on the tryline to clinch the game.

Reds coach Brad Thorn was rewarded for his decision to play Kerevi, who was due to be rested for the game. He ended up man of the match as the Reds were victorious in Durban for the first time since April 2004.

"A massive thanks to the boys for putting in that massive effort," Kerevi said. "It's been a long time. It's been 15 years since we've taken a win here and the Sharks didn't make it easy."

It was another costly loss for the Sharks, who also slipped up at home last weekend against the Jaguares of Argentina.

The Sunwolves burst into a big lead against the Hurricanes after two tries from flamboyant winger Semisi Masirewa, who went over untouched both times. The first came after a scintillating break down the middle by center Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco. The second was set up by a cross-kick from flyhalf Hayden Parker, which Masirewa collected before finishing with a soaring dive over the tryline.

The Wellington-based Hurricanes had a first-half try by captain TJ Perenara but came back forcefully in the second with scores by outside backs Ben Lam, Chase Tiatia and Wes Goosen.

Winger Goosen's chip-and-chase try gave the Hurricanes a six-point lead with 11 minutes to play, which they held onto under pressure.

The Johannesburg-based Lions had slipped down the standings with recent losses, 42-5 at home to the Sharks and 31-20 at the ACT Brumbies.

But they reasserted themselves on Friday with a typical Lions performance, strong in the forwards, sound in defense, and with some enterprise in the backs.

After being dormant for almost three quarters of the match, the Chiefs scored three tries in the last quarter. But the visitors held out for an important away win and a second straight over the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Tighthead prop Carlu Sadie was driven over the line in the 35th minute for a try which gave the Lions a 13-0 lead. Captain Warren Whiteley, back from injury, kicked through for winger Aphiwe Dyantyi to score just before halftime.

The Chiefs seemed unable to mount any coherent attack in the first three quarters of the match. But around the 60th minute, as if a switch had been thrown, they began to stretch the Lions defense.

First scrumhalf Brad Weber broke and set up a try for winger Sean Wainui. Three minutes later, Lions No. 10 Elton Jantjies muffed a clearing kick and the Chiefs scored again through prop Nepo Laulala.

The Lions retained a 20-10 lead as full time approached and the outcome seemed certain until flyhalf Marty McKenzie put in a brilliant kick for center Alex Nankivell which created a try for Tumua Manu and made the score 20-17 in the 76th minute.

The Lions sealed their win with a late dropped goal by Jantjies.


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