Rugby: Collins stretchered off in Christchurch

Crusaders 23 Hurricanes 13

The All Blacks selectors will be holding their breath tonight after star flanker Jerry Collins was stretched off the field in a neck brace during the Hurricanes' match against the Crusaders in Christchurch.

In a game which the Crusaders won 23-13 the All Black blindside flanker lay prone on the ground for a couple of minutes after making a tackle on Crusaders second-five Rua Tipoki in the 46th minute.

Sky TV reported Collins heard a noise when he went down but that the use of a stretcher was precautionary.

They said he had suffered a shoulder injury and was taken to hospital.

To make matters worse for the Hurricanes the loss has all but ruled them out of a semifinal spot in the Super 14 and a chance of avenging last year's loss in the final, also to the Crusaders.

After cruising to two comfortable victories in the last two weeks the Crusaders were involved in an old fashioned arm wrestle - although it hardly started that way.

All tries came in the first 30 minutes as both teams made huge defensive blunders, while only two Daniel Carter penalties were recorded by the scorers in the second half.

After an early Carter penalty the Hurricanes crossed first courtesy of a Crusaders' mix-up in midfield.

Halfback Alby Mathewson drifted across field from a 5m scrum and found Ma'a Nonu, who waltzed through a massive hole to score near the posts.

It wasn't much longer before some equally poor Hurricanes defence handed the home side back the lead, which they never relinquished.

On attack in the Hurricanes half, the ball was spread to Corey Flynn who was lurking out wide. The nuggety hooker brushed aside a feeble attempt of tackle from Paul Tito and showed good pace in running 30m to score.

Lock Ross Filipo then gave new meaning to the term "soft try" when he walked through the middle of a ruck on the Hurricanes line untouched to notch his fifth try of the season.

Both teams managed to sort out their defensive frailties in the last 10 minutes of the half, however, two long-range Piri Weepu penalties put the Hurricanes within a try of the home-side as they went into the break.

Both attacks lacked fluency in the second half and were guilty of turning the ball over in attacking territory.

It wasn't until the 66th minute when the first points of the half were scored via Carter even though the Crusaders spent 10 minutes attacking against 14 men when Nonu was sinbinned.

In the final 10 minutes of the match the Hurricanes had a chance to level the scores but turned the ball over on the Crusaders line.

And in typical Crusaders fashion they marched 50m upfield for Carter to seal the result.

Crusaders 23 (Corey Flynn, Ross Filipo, tries; Dan Carter 3 pen, 2 con) Hurricaes 13 (Ma'a Nonu, try; Piri Weepu 2 pen 1 con). Halftime: 17-13.

- NZ HERALD STAFF

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