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Late penalty sends Canes to Africa

Hurricanes’ winger Wes Goosen diving over for the second of his two tries on Friday. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

By Jake Beleski

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The Hurricanes were two minutes away from hosting a Super Rugby semi-final next weekend before a stunning 55m penalty from Lions’ winger Ruan Combrinck consigned them to a trip to South Africa.

The Sharks were clinging to a 21-20 lead over the Lions with fulltime approaching in their quarter-final yesterday morning (NZT), but second-choice goalkicker Combrinck stepped up when it mattered most to keep their season alive.

The successful kick meant the Hurricanes — who were waiting in Sydney to learn where their semi-final would be held — boarded the plane for Johannesburg for a Sunday morning (NZT) clash with the Lions.

On Friday night the Hurricanes overcame a slow start to eventually beat the Brumbies 35-16 in Canberra, but they will be looking for a much better performance against a Lions side which is yet to face Kiwi opposition.

Right winger Wes Goosen scored a double for the defending champions, his first try an electric solo effort from an attacking lineout.

Jordie Barrett was the benefactor of an accidental ‘falcon’ after a TJ Perenara pass careened off teammate Ben May’s head and into the in-goal for Barrett to pounce on and score an unlikely try.

The Brumbies held a 16-15 lead going into halftime, but were hardly able to get outside their own half in the second spell as the Hurricanes applied constant pressure.

The other semi-final will be an all New Zealand affair after the Crusaders and Chiefs both advanced to the next round.

The Crusaders dominated the Highlanders in atrocious conditions in Christchurch, after the Highlanders only arrived in the city on the day of the match due to their Friday night flight being cancelled.

The Crusaders’ All Black-laden forward pack wasted little time getting on top, and continued to flex their muscle throughout the contest.

By halftime the contest was as good as over at 17-0, and even a scoreless second half couldn’t detract from the Crusaders’ ominous performance.

This weekend they will be hoping for more of the same against the Chiefs, who beat the Stormers 17-11 in Cape Town.

The match wasn’t much of a spectacle for fans of running rugby, but the accurate boot of Damian McKenzie and a late try to Shaun Stevenson were enough to get the job done.

The Chiefs now face the long-haul trip back to New Zealand to face a team they have beaten eight times in the last 12 matches between the two.

The Hurricanes are still a chance of hosting the final, but only if they win their semi-final and the Chiefs topple the Crusaders.

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