After four losses in five games the Wellington based Super Rugby franchise showed some of the flair they are capable of last night against the Chiefs.
By Roger Childs
It was sudden death at the caketin last night and the Hurricanes stepped up to win 32-31.
It sounds like a nail-biting finish, but it wasn’t. The home team had a 15 point lead with five minutes to go and the Chiefs needed to score three times to move into the semi-finals.
They scored two converted tries for 14 points, but ran out of time.
After losing to the Chiefs last week in a match they didn’t need to win, the Hurricanes showed the improvement they needed.
The Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd believes his players are peaking at the right time after their hard-fought 32-31 quarter-final victory over the Chiefs in Wellington. Newshub
Entertainment from the outset
Julian Savea intercepted a long pass from Damien McKenzie and ran 80m to score under the bar and then two minute and almost did it again after another intercept.
But Kurt Baker scored an excellent try in the corner after the home team provided a convenient opening after another attempted intercept. TJ Perenara put the home team ahead again with a dubious try near the posts. There was a possible double movement as well as the suggestion of a knock on.
Early in the second half All Black centre Anton Lienart-Brown scored for the visitors to bring the teams level.
Up to this point, the even scoring reflected the closeness of the teams. Both talented backlines looked sharp and the Chefs were particularly dangerous on breakouts from deep in their own half. The forward battle was also very even with closely contested scrums and rucks.
The last half hour
Playing with the wind and the majority of possession, the home team started to get on top and were rewarded with two quick tries.
The second one which took Ben Lam to 15 for the season, showed the benefit of clearing the ball quickly from the scrum, a strategy the Hurricanes have not used enough in recent matches.
Jordie Barrett’s excellent conversion from the sideline put the game beyond the reach of the home side.
Still room for improvement
So the Hurricanes are into the semi-finals for the fourth time in as many years. However, to win next week they need to get the tactics right.
- Stop holding the ball in the back of scrums, as this allows the opposition time to organise their defence.
- Spin the ball out quickly to the fast men who have the space to move.
- Avoid aimless kicking down field as this only gives away precious possession.
- Make the first time tackles.
- Do things quickly: lineouts, penalties, passing.
Tonight’s match between the Crusaders and the Sharks will determine who their opponents will be. On form it should be a showdown at AMI Stadium next weekend in Christchurch.