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Abbott double sets up Hurricanes rugby win

NZN 15/04/2017

The Hurricanes have finished with a well-timed flourish to beat the Blues 28-24 in a helter-skelter Super Rugby match at Eden Park.

An unlikely brace of tries to lock Mark Abbott underpinned Saturday's win, the defending champions' sixth from seven matches this season.

Poor handling and some questionable option-taking again let the Blues down, the loss leaving the Aucklanders at the bottom of the New Zealand conference with just three wins from eight starts.

First blood went to the Hurricanes after three minutes when Abbott bulldozed over from close range, punishing some loose Blues defence around the ruck.

The Blues hit back three minutes later, halfback Augustine Pulu making the initial blindside run from a turnover before offloading for Melani Nanai to score.

The Hurricanes lost lock Michael Fatialofa to a nasty-looking knee injury soon after, but continued to attack the Blues' defensive line with gusto.

Beauden Barrett set up the Hurricanes' second soon after, slicing through the midfield before slipping the inside pass for second five-eighth Ngani Laumape to dot down.

The Blues again responded quickly, No.8 Steven Luatua barging through before finding Nanai storming down the right touchline.

Barrett continued to feature, crossing for the Hurricanes' third after toeing ahead a Blues fumble then earning a yellow card - his third in two games - for a deliberate knockdown.

Ahead 21-14 at halftime, the Hurricanes continued to dominate territory, but the Blues scored first through replacement first five-eighth Bryn Gatland, son of Lions coach Warren.

His 55th-minute penalty narrowed the Canes' lead to just four points, then lock Scott Scrafton crashed over to give the home team the lead with 15 minutes remaining.

The Blues looked solid in defence but the Hurricanes began to build phases, and Abbott was the man on the spot to barge over down the blindside with a quick pick and go for the match-winning try in the 73rd minute.

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