Chiefs get Caned into submission
REPORT: The Hurricanes showcased a defensive masterclass to ensure a 25-9 victory over the Chiefs in Wellington to secure a home Super Rugby Final.
Big hits, silky skills and moments of brilliance were the order of the day in another classic New Zealand derby but the Hurricanes' line speed and dogged defence was too much for the Chiefs to handle.
It was a tough old start as both sides kept the ball among the forwards to build the phases. The breakdowns were highly competitive and set the tone for things to come and was soon followed by a moment of Beauden Barrett brilliance.
The Hurricanes flyhalf spotted some space behind the Chiefs' defensive line. He chipped, chased it down and sprinted away from the cover defence to make about 40 metres. The cover defence managed to bring him down a few metres from the try line but he had the vision to offload to Willis Halaholo for the game's first try.
Barrett could not convert though but the home side had a 5-0 lead after eight minutes. The Chiefs hit back a few minutes later through a Damian McKenzie penalty after the Hurricanes were penalised for being offside inside their 22.
The visitors went on a lengthy period of dominance inside the Hurricanes' 22 and turned down numerous shots at goal to go for the try but they came away with nothing and the home side punished them for it.
First, Barrett slotted a 33rd minute penalty to stretch his side's lead before the pivot picked off a Sam Cane pass on his 10 metre line to race away and score under the posts. He popped over the conversion to hand the Hurricanes a 15-3 lead after 35 minutes.
The Chiefs had the final say of the half though as a McKenzie penalty on the stroke of half-time saw them head into the break trailing 6-15.
The physical tussle continued in the second period and it took the Hurricanes nine minutes to register the first points of the half. A solid scrum on the Chiefs' five metre line saw Victor Vito break away down the short side to grab his side's third try.
Barrett added the extras to stretch their lead to 22-6 after 49 minutes. McKenzie and Barrett traded penalties within three minutes of each other as the home side remained 16 points ahead after 56 minutes.
The home side were reduced to 14 men in the 63rd minute when Cory Jane was sent to the bin but the Chiefs failed to add any points during that 10 minute period as the Hurricanes remained in the ascendency.
The Hurricanes were in cruise control as they ensured safe passage to their second consecutive Final.
Man of the match: Brodie Retallick's engine just kept going as he put in the hard yards. Sam Cane was busy and Aaron Cruden did what he could to get his side on the front foot. The entire Hurricanes pack deserves a mention for their work at the breakdowns and making life tough for the Chiefs around the fringes. However, their were two players in particular who contributed immensely to the Hurricanes' success. Ardie Savea was an absolute monster with ball in hand and at the breakdown while Beauden Barrett showed why he is probably the best flyhalf in the world with another complete performance.
Moment of the match: Take a bow Beauden Barrett. His vision to chip over the Chiefs' defensive line, run it down and then sprint away from all the cover defenders was something to behold. What made that movement more spectacular was his vision to offload the ball to Willis Halaholo to dot down.
Villain of the match: It was a tough, physical encounter but the players kept their emotions in check.
For the Hurricanes:
Tries: Halaholo, Barrett, Vito
Cons: Barrett 2
Pens: Barrett 2
For the Chiefs:
Pens: McKenzie 3
Yellow card: Cory Jane (Hurricanes, professional foul - deliberate knock-on, 63)
Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Jason Woodward, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (captain), 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Ben May, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Loni Uhila.
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Michael Kainga, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Vince Tavae-Aso, 23 Julian Savea.
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Sam McNicol, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Tom Sanders, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Taleni Seu, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Atunaisa Moli, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Siegfried Fisiihoi, 18 Mitchell Graham, 19 Lachlan Boshier, 20 Tevita Koloamatangi, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Toni Pulu, 23 Shaun Stevenson.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Paul Williams (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)