Hurricanes scrape into Super Rugby semis

Super Rugby
AAP
by AAP

The Hurricanes have reached the Super Rugby semi-finals for a fifth straight season after holding out the hard-charging Bulls 35-28 in Wellington.

The South African visitors threatened to overhaul a 24-7 deficit in a thrilling quarter-final on Saturday but a Hurricanes side inspired by milestone men Beauden Barrett and TJ Perenara held their nerve.

It sets up a daunting semi-final against title favourites the Crusaders in Christchurch, with the Hurricanes desperate to reverse last year's result in the same fixture.

Captain Dane Coles called on his pack to step up again, delighted with most of their work against the robust Bulls forwards.

"That African mentality, you've got to beat up the bully, I suppose. We tried to do that and I'm just stoked we got the result," he said.

"The set piece was a big one. The scrum wasn't perfect but I thought we negated their drive pretty well. The boys got stuck in."

Beauden Barrett starred for the Hurricanes against the Bulls. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Hurricanes will also need more vintage form from All Blacks halves Barrett and Perenara, who were central figures in numerous attacking raids at Westpac Stadium.

It was the 100th Super Rugby appearance shared by the pair - the most by any halves combination - while Perenara joined Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith as the most capped Hurricanes players with 126 games.

Both teams scored four tries but the Hurricanes slotted three penalty goals to register a 13th straight home win over South African opposition.

The Bulls, making their first finals appearance in six years, crossed early through fullback Warrick Gelant while winger Cornal Hendricks bagged himself an impressive try in each half.

They truly launched themselves into contention when awarded a penalty try midway through the second spell, after Hurricanes winger Salesi Rayasi was deemed to have deliberately knocked down a pass. Rayasi was also shown a yellow card.

That was a black mark on an eventful night for the rookie, who crossed either side of halftime after entering as a substitute for the injured Wes Goosen.

Perenara and winger Ben Lam snared the early Hurricanes tries but they were forced to call on two late penalty goals from Jordie Barrett to keep the Bulls at bay.

Departing Bulls skipper Handre Pollard praised his team for their fighting spirit after a travel-heavy finish to the season.

The competition's leading point-scorer is leaving for French outfit Montpellier after the World Cup, ending six seasons with the Pretoria-based side.

"I've made some great memories," he said.

"I grew as a player and grew as a person. I'll always be grateful for that."

RESULT

Hurricanes 35

Tries: Rayasi 2, Perenara, Lam

Cons: B Barrett 3

Pens: B Barrett 3

Bulls 28

Tries: Hendricks 2, Gelant, Penalty

Cons: Pollard 3