Lock Blade Thompson scored two tries to lift the Hurricanes to a 16-9 win over the Crusaders, keeping alive their hopes of reaching the Super Rugby playoffs.

The Hurricanes entered the match without their regular captain, All Blacks centre Conrad Smith, who broke his thumb during June's internationals against England. They then lost All Blacks backrower Victor Vito to a calf injury and Samoa center Alapati Leiua to a knee injury inside the first eight minutes.

Thompson scored on 23 minutes off a floated pass from flyhalf Beauden Barrett to give the Wellington-based Hurricanes an 11-3 lead at halftime, then completed a double in the 73rd with a 60 meter-dash for the try that clinched the match.

Attitude the key

"It was a great effort, the boys just never gave up," Hurricanes captain Jeremy Thursh said. "Set piece was a bit of trouble but the rest of our game we kept the attitude up and came away with a good result."

The Hurricanes' eighth win of the season lifted them from sixth to fifth place on a crowded championships ladder, just a point behind the Crusaders who took a bonus point to stay in fourth.

But the Hurricanes have only one match remaining in the regular season while most of their playoffs rivals have two.

The Crusaders, who have conceded first place in the New Zealand conference to the Dunedin-based Highlanders, have matches remaining against the Auckland-based Blues and Highlanders as they try to press claims to an eighth Super Rugby title.

Source: AP