Hurricanes wear Brumbies down
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Hurricanes overcame a spirited Brumbies team in Canberra on Friday, winning 35-16 to advance to the semifinals.
The Brumbies made an impressive start and after two early tries held a 16-15 lead at the break.
However, once the Hurricanes took the lead in the 48th minute, the game was effectively over as a contest.
Two late tries blew out the winning margin, but the hosts made the defending champions work hard for the first hour of the encounter.
The Hurricanes scored 20 unanswered points in a dominant second half.
They are now waiting on the outcome of the encounter between the Lions (whom they beat in the Final last year) and the Sharks to see who their semifinal opponents are.
Should the Lions win, the Hurricanes will travel to Johannesburg.
If the Sharks win the Hurricanes will head home to Wellington in New Zealand, where they will host the team from Durban.
The fired-up Australian conference champions, with Stephen Larkham in his final game as coach, unsettled the Hurricanes in the opening half.
However, they were pinned in their own half in the second period as the Kiwis exerted enormous pressure to crack the home side wide open.
The Hurricanes' biggest win in Canberra extended New Zealand teams' record over Australian opposition to 26-0 this season.
Wing Wes Goosen scored a try double with other tries to Jordie Barrett and Thomas Perenara.
Barrett finished with 20 points, adding three conversions and three penalties.
"We knew they would come out with a lot of emotion and intent and we worked hard in the first half and came away with building pressure in the second half," All Black flyhalf Beauden Barrett said.
It was an emotional comeback to rugby for cancer survivor Christian Lealiifano, who came on for the second half as a replacement for the Brumbies.
Hurricanes skipper Perenara paid tribute to Lealiifano: "I want to congratulate Christian for coming back.
"Everyone focuses on the game and the result, but when men like that come back with the fight he's had it's humbling to be around him and he's inspiring not just to his team but to the rest of the rugby community."
The Brumbies were over in the fourth minute through left wing James Dargaville before the Hurricanes pulled back to level with Goosen beating several tackles on a mazy run off a line-out win.
But the home team dominated possession and territory and hit the front again when hooker Josh Mann-Rea was awarded a try off a driving maul after several viewings by the TMO.
The Hurricanes gradually got back into their playing rhythm and were fortunate to score their second try to centre Jordie Barrett in the 26th minute.
Perenara's pass hit prop Ben May's head and propelled the ball over the Brumbies tryline where Jordie Barrett won the chase to ground the ball.
Penalty goals from Wharenui Hawera and Jordie Barrett left the Brumbies with a one-point lead at half-time.
But the Hurricanes lost front row forward Jeff To'omaga-Allen to a yellow card right on half-time when he struck Hawera's head with a pointed shoulder.
Lealiifano made his long-awaited comeback from leukaemia at the start of the second half as a replacement for Dargaville.
But it was all the Hurricanes as they tightened the screws on the Brumbies and were rewarded with second-half tries to Perenara and Goosen to win by a convincing margin.
Man of the match: James Dargaville troubled the Hurricanes defence on numerous occasions in the first half. Scott Fardy and Sam Carter were strong on defence and made plenty of carries. Fardy also won some crucial turnovers. Wharenui Hawera was influential at flyhalf. The biggest impact for the Brumbies came from their replacement scrumhalf, Argentinean Tomas Cubelli. The Barrett brothers, Jordie and Beauden, were as good as we have seen them this season - very impressive. Ardie Savea made a real nuisance of himself on defence and had some strong carries. However, our award goes to Hurricanes scrumhalf Thomas Perenara, As always he delivered a good service from the base of the set pieces and breakdown. However, his ability to win turnovers has not often ben seen.
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Dargaville, Mann-Rae
Pens: Hawera 2
For the Hurricanes:
Tries: Goosen 2, J Barrett, Perenara
Cons: J Barrett 3
Pens: J Barrett 3
Yellow card: Jeff To'omaga-Allen (Hurricanes, 40 - foul play, shoulder charge to the head)
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Andrew Smith, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter (captain), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Leslie Leulua'iali'i-Makin, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23 Christian Lealiifano.
Hurricanes: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Jordie Barrett, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Thomas Perenara (captain), 8 Brad Shields, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Jeff To'omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Ben May.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Reed Prinsep, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Otere Black, 23 Cory Jane.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia), William Houston (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)