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Hurricanes prove championship mettle

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5 days ago Daniel Gilhooly

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The Hurricanes believe it took until the last 60 minutes of the regular Super Rugby season to prove they are champion material once again.

A fighting 31-22 defeat of the Crusaders when there was plenty on the line represented the most important result of their season, lock Mark Abbott says.

Now he and his teammates want momentum to flow into the play-offs, starting with a quarter-final against the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday.

Abbott admits a question mark hung over their credentials, with all three 2017 losses coming against leading Kiwi opponents in tight, play-off style games.

'We've probably won the games we've had to win this year but when it's come to the big games, we haven't done that," Abbott said.

"When you think of both losses to the Chiefs and (one) to the Crusaders - they were disappointing performances from us.

"Last week was massive for us, a massive confidence-builder."

Mark Abbott of the Hurricanes. © Phil Walter/Getty Images Mark Abbott of the Hurricanes. Abbott thinks the 31-31 draw against the British and Irish Lions midweek side rebuilt some self-belief, with the team having felt flat in a 17-14 home loss to the Chiefs before Super Rugby's break.

Most encouragingly, the set piece stood firm against the Crusaders, although that was only after overcoming a fragile opening 20 minutes in which they fell 12-0 behind.

Assistant coach John Plumtree says the resolve shown in the fightback told him the Hurricanes are hungry to add to last year's maiden title.

"Often play-off rugby is pretty ugly," he said.

"You want to play a certain style but you can't always do it. You have to resort to the trenches and it becomes pretty tough.

"We were right up for that fight, which is really important."

That attitude will be important in a play-off campaign which could well be entirely on the road, unlike last year's three wins from three at Westpac Stadium.

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