Hurricanes back in the top six
The Hurricanes bounced back from last week's disappointment to put their Super Rugby campaign back on track with a 22-16 win over the Force.
The Hurricanes bounced back from last week's disappointment to put their Super Rugby campaign back on track with a 22-16 win over the Western Force in Wellington on Friday.
Outscoring their opponents by three tries to one, the Canes moved back into the top six on the standings.
It was an "every now and again" match.
Every now and again the Hurricanes had a burst of enthusiasm and something happened. Every now and again the Force set phases, though too little happened from them. The Force were the more consistent of the two but they did not reach the heights of the Hurricanes' occasional spurts.
Two of those spurts that led to tries came from kicks by Sam Norton-Knight whose kicking really was poor. Two of the Hurricanes' tries - 12 points - came from counterattacking off Norton-Knight kicks.
The Hurricanes were heavily penalised in the match - 13 times (nine times in the second half), 10 times at the tackle. As a result they lost James Broadhurst to the sin bin with nine minutes to play.
The Force had the first opportunity to score in a match that started so promisingly. The ball was in play for well over a minute before a line-out stopped play. Then Faifili Levave was penalised at tackle but Jayden Hayward missed from in front.
The Force went through phases, Tim Bateman was penalised at a tackle and the Force had a five-metre line-out. They mauled but the referee decreed that the Hurricanes had not collapsed a maul because there was none but then awarded the scrum to the Hurricanes for a turnover at a maul which did not exist.
Against the run of play the home side took the lead. Toby Lynn was ruled offside, advancing on a kick, and Beauden Barrett , who had a splendid game at fullback, goaled. 3-0 after 10 minutes.
The Hurricanes attacked from a line-out, going wide right where Julian Savea rolled a clever grubber into the Force in-goal but Alapati Leiua knocked on trying to ground the ball.
Hayward broke brilliantly on counterattack but, not for the only time in the match, his pass was wayward and Barrett footed it down field. He footed it three times but could just not grab it as it swirled across to the goalposts.
A line-out followed to the Force. Lynn caught the ball but Jeremy Thrush dispossessed him and the Hurricanes went right.. They bashed till Jeffery Toomaga-Allen scored with glee. 10-0 after 19 minutes.
Hayward counterattacked and this time interpassing kept play going till Motu Matu’u was penalised not far from the Hurricanes' line. Alby Mathewson tapped and Chris Smylie tackled him immediately but the Force played on and Tetera Faulkner was stopped right at the line, as the TMO confirmed. Back they went for the penalty because Smylie had not been back 10 metres when he tackled Mathewson. Hayward goaled. 10-3 after 27 minutes.
Norton-Knight kicked out and Julian Savea threw in quickly to Barrett who gave to Leiua. From 10 metres outside his 22 the stocky wing sped downfield, past bewildered Force men till he gave to Brad Shields who forced his way over in the left corner as Hayward tackled him. 15-3 after 29 minutes.
Just before half-time the Force attacked and were close till they were penalised but they were the first to score in the second half when Shields was offside and Hayward goaled. 15-6 after 46 minutes.
Norton-Knight kicked to Barrett and the Hurricanes countered with advancing [phases till Tusi Pisi dived over in the right corner as Matt Hodgson clung to him. Barrett converted from far out. 22-6 after 49 minutes,
The Force also went through phases but they hardly advanced at all, unlike what the Hurricanes managed through phases. They had a line-out near the 22 and Heath Tessmann threw deep to Sam Wykes, who immediately played off the top to Mathewson who broke and raced on a swerving run past four Hurricanes till he scored at the posts, not a hand laid on him. 22-13 after 55 minutes. It was a thrilling try.
After Broadhurst went to the sin bin, Hayward kicked a penalty to win the Force a bonus point for losing by fewer than eight. 22-16 with eight minutes to play.
The Hurricanes advanced in phases and then so did the Force as they moved out of their 22 into the Hurricanes' half but, after the siren, Alfie Mafi lost the ball in Leiua's tackle and the Hurricanes kicked out.
Man of the Match: Beauden Barrett is certainly a candidate as is flank Angus Cottrell but our choice is lock Jeremy Thrush who tackled, jumped and ran so effectively on his 28th birthday.
For the Hurricanes:
Tries: Toomaga-Allen, Shields, Pisi
Cons: Barrett 2
For the Western Force:
Pens: Hayward 3
Yellow card: James Broadhurst (Hurricanes, 72 - repeated breakdown offences)
Hurricanes: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Alapati Leiua , 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Faifili Levave, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Mark Reddish, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Reggie Goodes, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Karl Lowe, 20 TJ Perenara, 21 Reynold Lee-Lo, 22 Andre Taylor.
Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Winston Stanley, 12 Junior Rasolea, 11 Ed Stubbs, 10 Sam Norton-Knight, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Richard Brown, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Kieran Longbottom, 18 Rory Walton, 19 Chris Alcock, 20 Mick Snowden, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Alfie Mafi.
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)