Hurricanes survive Blues scare
MATCH REPORT: Hurricanes kept the pressure on New Zealand conference leaders Crusaders with a hard-fought 22-12 win over the Blues in Auckland.
The Aucklanders enjoyed 60 percent possession, but were repeatedly denied by desperate defence as the Hurricanes posted their fifth straight victory – giving them a record second only to competition leaders Crusaders.
“We’ve won a few tight games and that builds character,” captain TJ Perenara said.
“We were probably a little bit inaccurate around the middle of the park and that’s not good enough for us.”
It was the Blues’ fourth consecutive loss and their eighth straight against the Hurricanes, a sequence stretching back to March 2015.
Blues flyhalf Sam Nock opened the scoring with a try in the ninth minute, swooping on Patrick Tuipulotu’s pass after the lock ran over Beauden Barrett to burst through the Hurricanes’ line.
The ‘Canes scored against the run of play when Ngani Laumape stole the ball and sent Ben Lam off for a try with his first touch of the match.
Jordie Barrett, playing at fullback, made two try-saving tackles to deny the Blues, then scored at the other end to give his chances of World Cup selection a timely boost.
The Blues were camped on the Hurricanes danger zone early in the second half as Wellington conceded a string of penalties, culminating in a yellow card for Jeff Toomaga-Allen.
The pressure finally paid off when Dalton Papalii crossed in the corner in the 60th minute, although a missed conversion kept the Hurricanes ahead 14-12.
Another period of Blues dominance followed, but the Hurricanes again came out on top when Beauden Barrett snared a stray James parsons pass and scampered away for an intercept try.
Jordie then sealed the win with a long-range penalty.
Man of the match: For the Blues, Ma’a Nonu was a beast, the centre made heaps of carries and a handful tackles. While the likes of Blues’ Rieko Ioane and Hurricanes Ardie Savea also deserve a mention for their work. However our nod goes to Hurricanes fullback Jordie Barrett, who was in tremendous form. Not only was he instrumental on attack, the fullback made a few try-saving tackle – one which includes a massive hit on Ma’a Nonu.
Tries: Nock, Papalii
Tries: Lam, J. Barrett, B Barrett
Cons: B. Barrettt 2
Pen: J Barrett
Yellow card: Jeff To’omaga-Allen (Hurricanes, 52 – repeat infringement)
As it happened: Blues v Hurricanes
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Blues: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Tanielu Tele’a, 13 Thomas Faiane, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson (captain), 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Otere Black, 23 Matt Duffie.
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Thomas Perenara (captain), 8 Reed Prinsep, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Fraser Armstrong, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Kane Le’aupepe, 20 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 James Marshall, 23 Chase Tiatia.
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)