Hurricanes beat Bulls 35-28 in Super Rugby quarterfinal
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Rookie winger Salesi Rayasi came off the bench to score two tries as the Hurricanes beat South Africa's Bulls 35-28 in a Super Rugby quarterfinal on Saturday, setting up an all-New Zealand semifinal against the defending champion Crusaders.
Rayasi took the field in only his fifth Super Rugby match as an early replacement the injured Wes Goosen.
He made a clean break from the base of a ruck to score his first try in the 27th minute and handled twice on his way to his second in the 44th minute which gave the Hurricanes a decisive 29-14 lead just after halftime.
But Rayasi also conceded a penalty try and received a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on which prevented a Bulls try in the 50th minute, making his appearance more eventful.
Winger Cornal Hendricks, who was the man denied a try by Rayasi's indiscretion, still managed score two tries for the Bulls.
They scored the first try of the match through winger Warrick Gellant in the 13th minute, conceded the lead when scrumhalf T.J. Perenara scored four minutes later and trailed for the rest of the match.
But the Bulls refused to give up, falling behind by up to 15 points but fighting back on each occasion to make the Hurricanes fight for their win.
"It was great quality for playoffs footy," Hurricanes captain Dane Coles said. "The first half was bloody good and they made a comeback in the second half and took the game to the wire.
"I'm stoked for the boys. We've got another week."
The Hurricanes have made a habit this season of winning matches with a minor share of possession and while playing well only in patches. They did that again on Saturday, making life difficult for themselves with turnovers and missed tackles.
Both teams scored four tries and were largely separated by two second-half penalties to Hurricanes fullback Jordie Barrett who also made a try-saving tackle in the 68th minute.
Trailing by seven points, the Bulls, who had already drawn two matches in New Zealand this season, threw everything at the Hurricanes to try and force the match to extra time. But in an unfair twist it was Hendricks who dropped the ball after the final siren to end the match.