Hurricanes hammer clueless Sharks
MATCH REPORT: The Hurricanes advanced to the Super Rugby semifinals after they hammered the Sharks 41-0 in awful conditions at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.
Hail the Hurricanes! They were magnificent, weather or no weather. This must surely be one of the greatest Super Rugby performances ever and en route they established a record for a play-off match - keeping their opponents to zero. They outplayed the Sharks in every depart, save only the line-outs which despite their unpunished cheating were poor. (They lost eight of 15 throws.) It was above all their vision, energy and handling that had the Sharks licked.
The Sharks never really looked like moving off zero - not after missing three penalty kicks at goal in the first half. After their match their captain Tendai Mtawarira admitted that they were embarrassed. In fact, one wondered why they were there - certainly not to enjoy the weather.
The Sharks' only weapon seemed to be the line-out maul but John Plumtree had his side ready for that and they repelled the Sharks. The Sharks did two other things regularly - profitless pick-'n-drive against tough men and disastrous kicking which the Hurricanes gobbled up. One wonders what has happened to the wonderful, exciting Willie le Roux who kicks, it seems, just for something to do. Mercury has sunk in mediocrity. Even prep school boys know you don't kick into the wind.
A comparison of the two 'back threes' symbolised the difference between the two sides - James Marshall, Cory Jane and Jason Woodward against Le Roux, JP Pietersen and Lwazi Mvovo pretending to be Dilly and Daffy.
The weather was the worst that Wellington can manage - an erratic gale and rain. When New Zealanders talk about a breeze they mean wind and when they talk about wind they mean a gale. On this day they spoke of wind. Not that gale and rain deterred the Hurricanes who so imply played the way they always play.
The Sharks played with the wind or with some of the wind in the first half and ended the half trailing 13-0. Garth April missed two penalty kicks at goal before Beauden Barrett goaled on his first attempt. TJ Perenara had a run from a scrum. April tackled him but was penalised for not getting out of the way and Barrett goaled, but then it was a night on which he got everything right that mattered. 3-0 after 13 minutes, and the rain came.
The Sharks scrum was penalised three times till they changed their front row. The first penalty, against Coenie Oosthuizen, gave the Hurricanes a line-out in Sharks' territory on their right. On advantage after the line-out Barrett, into the wind, kicked a long diagonal to the left where Woodward rose up to beat Pietersen for the ball, beat two Sharks. Paul Jordaan tackled him and there was a short burst of fury o the Sharks line till armoured car Loni Uhila came racing in to take a short pass from Perenara and burst over for the first try. 8-0 after 18 minutes.
The next try started with great skill and gross error. Barrett kicked a long diagonal to his right which skidded onto touch. The Sharks won the line-out and played straight to Michael Claassens who knocked on. That gave the Hurricanes a scrum some 10 metres in from touch. Perenara scooted away on the blind side. Mvovo fell between two stools and James Marshall, unmarked had an easy run for the try in the right corner. 13-0 after 22 minutes.
The Sharks came close to scoring. In fact Mtawarira was over for a try but adjudged, to have helped himself illegally to the line, he was penalised.
The half-time score as 13-0 and there were suggestions that the Sharks were not entirely out of the game. But after 11 minutes in the half they kicked twice and were 27-0 down - out of contention.
Early in the half Dane Coles went off in pain, holding his ribs, his place taken by Durban-born Ricky Riccetelli.
Le Roux kicked and Perenara counterattacked down the left, bumping off Claassens and then passing inside to Woodward, who scored. 20-0 after 47 minutes.
Claassens kicked and near the half-way line Perenara started a counterattacked. He gave to Vaea Fifita. The big lock brushed off April and galloped some 35 metres to score a try which he and his team-mates obviously enjoyed. 27-0 after 51 minutes.
Barrett kicked a diagonal that went out near the cornerflag on the Hurricanes left. The line-out was messy and the Sharks carried over for a five-metre scrum to the Hurricanes. The referee allowed play to develop on advantage. None accrued and he came back to the penalty. Uhila tapped and charged. He was held up but Perenara darted over 34-0 after 59 minutes.
Lots of substitutions happened, including both sets of halfbacks and both front rows. The Sharks seemed to benefit more from the changes though it still was not enough to break into a score or prevent the Hurricanes from scoring their sixth try.
Julian Savea had a strong run and Willis Halaholo broke with much footwork, but the try came from Sharks' error. After the final siren sounded, they suffered two horrible passes along the ground. The second was knocked on and they were penalised for offside at the knock-on. The Hurricanes tapped and Brad Shields burst over for a try converted by Woodward. And the final whistle went, for New Zealand a triumphant sound, for the Sharks a death knell.
Man of the Match: One would love to reward Philip van der Walt but there were far too many Hurricanes who shone in the gloom, from James Marshall to Loni Uhila. Out choice is named Halfbacks - Beauden Barrett and TJ Perenara, who ran the game in outstanding fashion and with every sign of thorough enjoyment.
Tries: Uhilia, Marshall, Woodward, Fifita, Perenara, Shields
Cons: Barrett 3, Woodward
For Sharks: None
Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Jason Woodward, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Loni Uhila.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Mike Kainga, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Vince Aso, 23 Julian Savea.
Sharks: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jon-Paul Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Garth April, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira (captain).
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Lubabalo Mtembu, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Odwa Ndungane.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Paul Williams (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)