VIDEO: Lam hat-trick sinks Lions
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: Wing Ben Lam scored a hat-trick of tries to help the Hurricanes record a 28-19 win over the Lions at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.
The victory put the Hurricanes two points behind the Crusaders in the New Zealand conference, but with a game in hand, while the Lions suffered their fifth loss but remain top of the South African division.
Lam, the leading try scorer in the competition and seen by many in New Zealand as a contender to join the already crowded All Blacks wing stocks, lifted his total of tries for the year to 12.
With his mix of pace and power, Lam is seen by the Hurricanes as a special weapon.
"He's on fire. He's playing really good football," said captain Brad Shields while coach Chris Boyd believed Lam can only get better.
"He's starting to realise the potential he's got. He's big and fast. He's doing a good job for us but at the end of a good backline."
Not even the loss of Jordie Barrett when he rolled an ankle before kick off could upset the 'Canes who slotted another young All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder in at fullback as the they outscored the Lions four tries to three.
The Wellington side have been smarting since the semifinals last year when they surrendered a 19-point lead to lose to the Lions 29-44.
This time they again took an early lead but it was one which they would not surrender in a game which never reached great heights, in part because of a strong, swirling wind in the stadium.
Early tries to Lam and Ardie Savea had the Hurricanes ahead 14-7 at half-time with scrumhalf Nic Groom scoring for the Lions just before the break.
Savea's try came from a stolen line-out as the Lions struggled with their throw after influential hooker Malcom Marx limped off the field early with a hamstring strain.
Lam scored twice more in the second half with Beauden Barrett converting all four Hurricanes tries as the forged their way to a 28-7 lead before the Lions staged a late comeback.
But, as with their revival against the Queensland Reds last week, the Lions left their run too late.
Industrious flank Marnus Schoeman and replacement wing Sylvian Mahuza scored late tries for the Lions before they ran out of time.
Man of the match: Marnus Schoeman played out of skin for the away side and he scored a try as well. For the Hurricanes Ardie Savea, Vaea Fifita and Ngani Laumape were powerful ball-runners, while Beauden Barrett was a joy to watch at No.10. However, the award goes to wing Ben Lam who was outstanding out wide and scored three tries in the win.
Tries: Lam 3, A Savea
Cons: Barrett 4
Tries: Groom, Schoeman, Mahuza
Cons: Jantjies 2
Hurricanes: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields (captain), 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 James O'Reilly, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Ben May, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Vince Aso.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nicholas Groom, 8 Albertus Smith, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Francois Mostert, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Ashlon Davids, 22 Rohan Janse Van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza.
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Ben O'Keeffe, Richard Kelly
TMO: Shane McDermott
AFP & @rugby365com