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Hurricanes put away Force with late rally

FULLBACK Cory Jane scored in stoppage time as the Wellington Hurricanes rallied from a 14-point deficit to edge the Western Force 28-27 in a Super 14 match in Perth yesterday.

The Force led 27-13 after 43 minutes via a double from winger Nick Cummins and tries to Ryan Cross and Scott Staniforth and had an 11-point buffer with four minutes left.

But Wellington hit back, with flyhalf Willie Ripia landing a penalty and David Smith crossing in the 77th to close the margin to four points.

Jane stepped inside lock Nathan Sharpe and shrugged off Drew Mitchell to cross in the corner in the final seconds to secure a dramatic win, moving the Hurricanes into fourth place on the standings with five wins from eight matches.

Ripia had opened the scoring with a penalty goal in the fifth.

Sharpe had a try disallowed before Cummins crossed for the first try to give the hosts a 7-3 lead.

Ripia landed another penalty to close the gap to one point before but tries to Staniforth in the 30th and Cummins' second in the 36th gave the Force a 17-6 buffer.

Ma'a Nonu set up Zac Guildford for Wellington's first try just before half-time and but Matt Giteau kicked a penalty goal to make it 20-13 at the break.

The Force earned a bonus point with their fourth try when Cross scored just after the break and seemed to have the win secured until Wellington scored two tries in the last four minutes to grab the win.

In Auckland, the Blues banked an important bonus point from a 36-12 win over South Africa's Lions.

Anthony Tuitavake, Rudi Wulf and Joe Rokocoko, who all spent time on the wing for New Zealand last season, were among the Auckland tryscorers as the Blues moved from ninth to fifth place on the table at the start of the ninth round.

Wulf marked his first match of the current season - after spending eight weeks sidelined with a broken wrist - with two second-half tries while Tuitavake and Rokocoko also touched down in a comprehensive but flawed win.

Scrumhalf Chris Smylie scored the first of the Blues tries and engineered the second, to Tuitavake, which boosted their lead to 14-0 at halftime. Replacement Peter Saili scored the last of Auckland's six tries seven minutes from full-time.

The Johannesburg-based Lions made a small impression with two second-half tries.

"It was a big turnaround after our bye week," Blues captain and All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu said. "It was great the way the boys stepped up this week and now we have to continue stepping up."

The South Africans have won just two of their eight matches this season to sit near the bottom.


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