VIDEO: Sowakula's costly late shot breaks Hamilton stalemate
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: Jordie Barrett kicked a penalty five minutes into injury time to secure the Hurricanes a 27-24 win in a brutal arm-wrestle in Hamilton on Friday.
They took the ball through more than 30 excruciating and energy-sapping phases without making much progress, as the Hurricanes struggled to breach the Chiefs’ defensive wall.
It was a brain explosion from Chiefs No.8 Pita Gus Sowakula – a late hit off the ball – that gifted the visitors the chance – with Barrett obliging and slotting the kick from 40 metres out for an important win.
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The New Zealand rivals scored three tries apiece, but Barrett’s kick in the 83rd minute proved decisive, stunning former Wales coach Warren Gatland’s Chiefs.
It came after a marathon 36-phase effort from the Hurricanes in the game’s final moments when the scores were locked 24-24.
“We’re pretty disappointed, we thought we did enough to win,” Chiefs skipper Sam Cane said.
Hurricanes captain Dane Coles said the Wellington team had been chasing a victory in Hamilton for a long time.
“We’ve been coming here since 2009 and it’s my first win against the Chiefs here, which makes me bloody happy,” he said.
The Hurricanes made the early running and were rewarded in the ninth minute when Ben Lam crossed after a free-flowing backline move in which the ball passed through five pairs of hands.
Flank Lachlan Boshier muscled his way over the line for the Chiefs but Hurricanes flyhalf Fletcher Smith found a defensive gap to put the visitors ahead 10-14 at half-time.
Both sides came close after the restart but it was Chiefs centre Tumua Manu who broke through before Hurricanes scrumhalf Thomas Perenara was sin-binned for a high tackle.
Shaun Stevenson added another for the hosts, lifting their lead to 24-14.
A penalty and an Asafo Aumua try from a line-out drive levelled the scores at 24-24, setting up the blockbuster finale which Barrett decided with his late kick.
Man of the match: You can always bank on Damian McKenzie to get you some decent metres. The loose trio of Pita Sowakula, Sam Cane and Lachlan Boshier were also good – with Boshier winning a crucial turnover just metres from his own tryline in the final quarter. Aaron Cruden was again the biggest influence on the Chiefs’ game through his commitment and attitude on defence – not to mention his game management and the sublime off-load for the crucial Tumua Manu try midway through the second half. Jacobus van Wyk had a massive workrate on defence, Ngani Laumape was powerful with ball in hand. Loose forwards Du’Plessis Kirifi and Gareth Evans put in massive shifts, while scrumhalf Thomas Perenara, his yellow card aside, was also good value for his team. Our award goes to the man of the moment Jordie Barrett – who made just over 100 metres in his 17 carries, beat six defenders, and contributed 12 points – through three conversions and two penalties, including that late match-winner.
For the Chiefs:
Tries: Boshier, Manu, Stevenson
Cons: McKenzie 3
For the Hurricanes:
Tries: Lam, Smith, Aumua
Cons: Barrett 3
Pens: Barrett 2
Yellow card: Thomas Perenara (Hurricanes, 57 – foul play, high tackle)
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Tumua Manu, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Mitchell Brown, 4 Michael Allardice, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Atu Moli, 18 Reuben O’Neill 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Lisati Milo-Harris, 22 Kaleb Trask, 23 Alex Nankivell.
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Kobus Van Wyk, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 Thomas Perenara (co-captain), 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Devan Flanders, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles (co-captain), 1 Fraser Armstrong.
Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Alex Fidow 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Vaea Fifita, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Billy Proctor, 23 Wes Goosen.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Peterson (New Zealand)