Top of the New Zealand conference
A hat-trick from Cory Jane saw the Hurricanes to a 35-21 bonus-point victory over the Reds at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.
ANZAC Day was celebrated in Wellington with the oath and the bugle, a deeply touching start. Louis Barrow, the 1937 Springbok who won an MC in North Africa once said that the best soldiers in North Africa were the New Zealanders. On this day of ANZAC celebration the New Zealanders were also the better team at Westpac Stadium in Wellington with its empty seats. - much the better team
It was a lively game and competitive enough to keep the interest going, but in the end the team that thoroughly deserved to win won and won going away.
The Reds led at half-time and late in the second half had - surprisingly - lifted themselves to just four points behind at 25-21. But they did so against the run of play and in the end the Hurricanes blew them away.
There were actually bigger differences between the two sides than 35-21 suggests. To start with the Hurricanes kicked far, far better. The Reds kicked long which gave the Hurricanes counterattack fodder. Then the Hurricanes won the loose forward battle hands down, despite a mighty Reds effort at the scrums. The Hurricanes had much the more creative backs despite the individual efforts of the young Reds wings.
The Reds scored first. From a line-out on their left, Will Genia went left and then the Reds came back right where Quade Cooper gave Beau Robinson a wonderful pass that set the flank racing through the gap. He gave to Ben Lucas who was unopposed as was JJ Tuilagi on his right. Lucas scored. Cooper, who had a moderate to poor match, missed the conversion. 5-0 after 8 minutes.
The Hurricanes used a penalty to get a five-metre line-out but then lost the throw-in. But they then attacked with the forwards doing a speedy pick-'n-drive from which they went right and a brilliant piece of play from Andre Taylor. He was in a two-against-two situation, curved on the outside and gave Cory Jane an overlap and the wing scored. 5-5 after 18 minutes.
When Victor Vito was penalised at a tackle, Cooper goaled. 8-5 to the Reds after 20 minutes.
The Hurricanes attacked through wily Taylor on the left and then went wide right where Vito surged ahead and gave to Dan Coles just in from touch. Coles immediately and perfectly passed inside to Jane who scored again in the right corner. 10-8 to the Hurricanes after 22 minutes.
When Julian Savea was offside at a kick and then when TJ Perenara grabbed Cooper who did not have the ball. Cooper goaled and the Reds led 14-10 at the break.
Ben Tapuai kicked far downfield and the Hurricanes had plenty of room to counter. Mike Harris was penalised and the next thing Jack Lam was stepping and surging on the attack. From a line-out the Hurricanes went wide left where Taylor was again effective. They bashed and then the artful dodger, Perenara, picked up and dived through the defences of two Reds to score a try. This time Beauden Barrett converted and the Hurricanes led 17-14 after 47 minutes. They did not relinquish their lead.
Barrett started the attack with a startling run and the forwards did their rapid pick-'n-drive with James Broadhurst and Coles prominent. They then went right and Jane completed his hat-trick in the right corner. 22-14 after 57 minutes.
That was the bonus-point try.
Just after this Genia limped off the field, which must frighten Wallaby selectors.
Barrett kicked a penalty and then the Hurricanes scored a shock try on a rare raid into Hurricane territory. James Horwill, James Slipper and Greg Holmes bashed at the Hurricanes and James Hanson powered over for a try that Cooper converted. 25-21 with 13 minutes to go.
Immediately afterwards the Reds attacked with a run down the right but Rob Simmons grubbered ahead and Taulagi flykicked into the Hurricanes' in-goal but Vito won the race - just - for the drop-out.
That was the end of Reds hopes.
The Hurricanes went right. Barrett did a scissors with Matt Proctor who gave inside to Ardie Savea who ran over Nick Frisbee and scored at the posts. 32-21 after 75 minutes and Barrett then goaled a penalty two minutes later.,
Man of the Match: There were several Hurricanes - hat-trick Cory Jane, Andre Taylor who was so effective when it mattered most, guileful TJ Perenara, rugged Jack Lam with a centre's feet, skilled Dane Coles and our Man of the Match Victor Vito who made a great contribution on attack and defence and in the line-outs.
For the Hurricanes:
Tries: Jane 3, Perenara, A. Savea
Cons: Barrett 2
Pens: Barrett 2
For the Reds:
Tries: Lucas, Hanson
Pens: Cooper 3
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Alapati Leiua, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Reggie Goodes, 19 Blade Thomson, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Tim Bateman, 23 Matt Proctor.
Reds: 15 Ben Lucas, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Fainga'a, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Ed O'Donoghue, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Anthony Fainga'a, 23 Rod Davies.
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)