The Jordie Barrett show floors Highlanders
MATCH REPORT: The Hurricanes broke their Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021 duck with an impressive 30-19 win over the Highlanders on Friday.
*As it happened: Highlanders v Hurricanes
In a fixture where Aaron Smith celebrated his 154th cap for the Highlanders, overtaking Ben Smith, the 80 minutes belonged to Hurricanes fullback Jordie Barrett.
The 24-year-old was absolutely amazing, scoring a hat-trick of tries and adding an additional 15 points with his boot.
There was an electric atmosphere under the closed roof of the Forsyth-Barr Stadium, but unfortunately, the home side could not convert that energy into points on the board.
The Highlanders had a chance to register the first points on the board however fullback Josh Ioane pushed his kick wide and instead, it was the Hurricanes who draw the first blood with a 50 metre Jordie Barrett penalty kick.
The Hurricanes dominated the opening minutes, from a successful attacking line-out, the Hurricanes faked the drive and moved the ball quickly out the back through the hands. Flyhalf Orbyn Leger provided an accurate ball to Barrett at pace and he got outside his man to score in the opposite corner. He added the extras and the visitors were up 10-0 after nine minutes.
The action was simply tantalising. With the crowd demanding a score from the host, the Highlanders camped inside the Hurricnaes’ five and after some intense phases, they had the perfect opportunity to score, however, Shanon Frizell lost the ball as he attempted to ground it over the line.
They were under advantage so they had another crack, but miscommunication in the midfield saw them turn the ball over after an obstruction.
Due to continuous pressure from the Highlanders, the Hurricanes committed fouls and after multiple individual errors, they went down to 14 men after Tyrel Lomax was handed a yellow card for collapsing the maul.
But, despite the numeral advantage and enjoying 90 percent possession, the Highlanders would again let the opportunity slip, with Coles stealing the ball at the breakdown to give the Hurricanes some respite.
Highlanders finally got their reward 34 minutes in after a good old fashioned ten-man maul from the lineout. Lock Bryn Evans was awarded the try and Josh Ioane slotted the conversion to make it 10-7.
Back to their full complement of 15 men, the Hurricanes enjoyed a rare period on offence in the dying embers of the opening stanza after the Highlanders failed to clear the ball. A stagnant attack was given life when they came against the grain, with wing Salesi Rayasi finding a half gap and offloading to Barrett who cantered over untouched under the poles.
The All Black utility back added conversion for the 17-7 lead at the break.
The second stanza saw the Hurricanes picked up where they left off. Instigated by centre Ngani Laumapi, the Hurricanes produced yet another masterclass with impressive offloads and switch play before Barrett stretched over for his hat-trick. He added the extra for the 24-7 points.
Barret was simply flawless as the 24-year-old extended the lead with another 50 plus metre bomb to take the score out to 27-7.
Sustained pressure from the Highlanders attack would lead to their second try. A quick tap from All Black Aaron Smith and slick movement out wide would see Connor Garden-Bachop go over in the corner.
The Hurricanes defence would nullify most of the Highlanders remaining energy on attack until an inspired effort from replacement Thomas Umaga-Jensen, who glided over in the 77th minute for a consolation try.
Fittingly, Barrett would have the final say of the match with a last-minute penalty to take his tally to 30 points, a record points haul in Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Man of the match: While Dane Coles made a noteworthy contribution, the 80 minutes belonged to Hurricanes fullback Jordie Barrett, who walks away with our man of the match award.
Tries: Evens, Garden-Bachop, Umaga-Jenson
Cons: Ioane 2
Tries: Barrett 3
Cons: Barrett 3
Pens: Barrett 3
Yellow cards: Tyler Lomax (Hurricanes, 23 – collapsing the maul)
Highlanders: 15 Josh Ioane, 14 Freedom Vahaakolo, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Patelesio Tomkinson, 11 Connor Garden-Bachop., 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Pari Pari Parkinson, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ethan de Groot.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 Kazuki Himeno, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Thomas Umaga-Jensen.
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Orbyn Leger, 9 Luke Campbell, 8 Ardie Savea (captain), 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 Scott Scrafton, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Xavier Numia.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Tevita Mafileo, 19 Liam Mitchell, 20 Devan Flanders, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23 Ruben Love.
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe, Mike Fraser
TMO: Chris Hart