Moana Pasifika secured a historic first win in Super Rugby after coming from behind against the Hurricanes to force extra time and secure the winning try via the golden point rule.
It was a match the Canes will certainly feel they should have won had it not been for too many basic errors, while Moana Pasifika will look to their superb defence which kept them in the game until the very end despite having much less possession to work with.
When a late try from Solomone Funaki allowed the Samoans to tie up the scores and force extra time, a sensational five-pointer from Danny Toala saw them claim an incredible 24-19 win.
84 minutes on the clock, 19-19 against the Hurricanes and Moana Pasifika give us one of the great moments in Super Rugby history ?? pic.twitter.com/lHQr9xTop7— SuperSport ?? (@SuperSportTV) March 25, 2022
Things had started well for the Kiwis when a couple of early penalties put them on the front foot and deep into opposition territory.
From line-out ball, Peter Umaga-Jensen put Jordie Barrett through into a gap, with the fullback running a great angle to flummox two defenders and score. Barrett converted his own try to put the Canes 7-0 up.
The Samoans continued to fall foul of the referee's whistle as the first half progressed, but with the Canes struggling with their handling and conceding regular turnovers, they weren't able to take advantage.
The Hurricanes looked to have scored a peach of a try on 15 minutes, but the points were chalked off when the TMO spotted a forward pass in the build-up.
Meanwhile, the referee finally lost patience with Moana Pasifika's ill-discipline, prop Sekope Kepu eventually paying the price for repeated infringements with 10 minutes in the bin.
But against all odds, it was Moana Pasifika who scored next. A superb 50/22 kick from William Havili put them on the attack, and after bashing away at the line for several phases, No 8 Henry Time-Stowers was able to barge over the line for the try. Christian Leali'ifano nailed the conversion to tie up the scores.
The Canes continued to enjoy most of the possession but were struggling to make it count as turnovers and errors continued to punctuate their play, including several at crucial moments with the try line beckoning.
Meanwhile, Moana Pasifika's discipline also continued to be a problem, leading to another yellow card to centre Levi Aumua just before half-time - though again their defence was able to hold out as it ended 7-7 at the break.
It was a similar story when the second half got under way, with the Canes doing most of the running and forcing Moana Pasifika to make tackle after tackle.
A try was surely coming and it did arrive on 56 minutes as winger Josh Moorby scored on his Super Rugby debut. The opening was created when Barrett flung the ball out wide and Umaga-Jensen sucked in a couple of defenders before offloading to the debutant. Barrett somehow missed a doddle of a conversion, however, to make it 7-12 to the Canes.
Moana Pasifika were still very much in this game, and they proved it a few minutes later when Aumua was freed up down the right-hand touchline for their second try, duly converted.
But back came the Hurricanes within minutes to retake the lead when Caleb Delany was put through into a massive gap before the ball found Alex Fidow, who charged in for the try.
Moana Pasifika simply refused to lie down, however, and with just minutes to play they earned a scrum right in front of the posts. A great carry from No 8 Henry Time-Stowers from the back of the set-piece put them on the front foot, allowing Solomone Funaki to crash over the line following a quick pick-and-go.
Ruben Love, who had come on as a replacement and taken over the kicking duties, slotted his second conversion to tie up the scores again and with barely any time for the Canes to find another answer, that was how it ended in regulation, leading to a golden-point extra-time finish.
The match was anyone's for the taking but it would be Moana Pasifika who reached out and grabbed it with both hands courtesy of a sensational team try that started in their own 22.
After winning the turnover inside their own territory, the ball was kicked deep into Canes territory, with Danny Toala chasing the ball down and reaching it first. Toala then put the ball to boot again, taking the cover defenders out of the game before picking up the ball to score the winning try.
Tries – Time-Stowers, L. Aumua, Funaki, Toala
Con – Leali'ifano (2)
Cards – Kepu (Yellow, 19'), L. Aumua (Yellow, 38')
Tries – J. Barrett, Moorby, Fidow
Con – J. Barrett, Love
Cards – Rayasi (Yellow, 62')