Super 15 - Jane scores late try as Hurricanes repel Force
Full-back Cory Jane scored a 75th-minute try to help the Wellington Hurricanes complete a scintillating 34-28 victory over a stubborn Western Force in their Super rugby match in Palmerston North.
Jane's try came after fly-half Aaron Cruden had opened up the Force defence for the second time in five minutes by attacking the line. He also set up James Broadhurst's 72nd minute try.
Cruden was also perfect with his goalkicking, slotting four conversions and two penalties for the Hurricanes.
The Force had established an 18-10 lead by halftime courtesy of tries from inside centre Rory Sidey and full-back Cameron Shepherd as the visitors exploited weak defending around the fringes of the breakdown and a massive territorial advantage.
Hurricanes inside centre Ma'a Nonu had scored the game's first try from a well worked backline movement, while Cruden slotted the conversion and a penalty for the home side, who had opportunities to score but were guilty of forcing the ball rather than trying to build pressure.
Nonu grabbed his second try shortly after the break when he took the ball off centre Conrad Smith, who was returning after six weeks out with a badly broken nose, and crashed over.
Cruden converted to make it 18-17, though the Force extended the lead when number eight Ben McClaman finished off a break from fly-half James Stannard.
Cruden and Shepherd traded penalties before Hurricanes lock James Broadhurst scored a try after a patient build-up and superb break and inside pass by Cruden, who converted to make the score 28-27.
Jane then scored his match-winning try and the Hurricanes defended desperately for the final four minutes as the Force attacked their line.
"Very disappointing... for 77 minutes we played really well but those last three (minutes) we let them in," Force captain Nathan Sharpe said.
"A lot of things worked well for us but when they got down the other end of the field they scored points and that's the telling stat."
Neither side have a chance of making the playoffs with three matches remaining.
The Hurricanes are in last place in the New Zealand conference on 34 points while the Force received a bonus point and moved to 28 points, third in the Australian conference but 17 points behind the New South Wales Waratahs and 26 adrift of the table-topping Queensland Reds.