Canes sneak past Highlanders
Canes sneak past HighlandersSHARE
The Hurricanes handed the Highlanders their third consecutive home defeat when they secured a tight 23-19 victory in Dunedin on Friday.
What a yoyo, seesaw of a match! It started that way and stayed that way till TJ Perenara hoofed the ball, over the dead-ball line into the Zoo where the scarfies make merry to end the match.
It was always exciting as both teams ran at every opportunity. Counterattack was the order of the day.
Three tries to one suggests that the Hurricanes deserved to win and that is true as they almost scored on three other occasions, and then their defence was excellent.
They made more handling errors than the Highlanders but then they passed more often.
The Hurricanes' phases were expansive while those of the Highlanders tended to be at closer quarters.
The result was that the Highlanders put the ball into 14 scrums, the Hurricanes into four. But the Hurricanes compensated by having more aggressive scrums which put pressure on the Highlanders. The last two scrums of the match were uncontested.
Both sides started the match running with a great break by fullback James Marshall of the Hurricanes. Brad Shields was right at the line and it seemed he had to score but, upright, he was smashed back. The ball then came to Conrad Smith who burst low and fast and over for the try. 5-0 after 8 minutes.
At this stage tough Andrew Hore left the field, the captaincy going to tough Brad Thorn.
Ben May was penalised at the second scrum of the game and Colin Slade goaled. He goaled three more in the match and then missed with his last one which looked to be a crucial miss. 5-3 after 15 minutes.
Conrad Smith had an overlap on the right and chipped. The ball bounced back from the goal-line and Shields was over but the referee adjudged that there had been a Hurricane knock-on. It was a situation where the TMO's advice could have been helpful.
The Highlanders then went through 17 phases. They seemed sterile phases till Phil Burleigh grubbered and the Highlanders' came close to scoring. They did when Jeremy Thrush was offside and Slade goaled. 6-5 to the Highlanders after 28 minutes.,
The Hurricanes counterattacked and went wide left where Victor Vito swept past Kade Poki and passed to Ben Franks on the left wing. He charged ahead and then, Lomu-like, bounced Ben Smith out of the way to score in the left corner, almost showing some unprop-like emotion. Beauden Barrett converted. 12-6 after 31 minutes.
From the kick-off the Highlanders attacked till they had a five-metre scrum on the left. Hosea Gear took the pass from Aaron Smith going right. He Lomu-ed Barrett and scored in Karl Lowe's tackle. 13-12 after 431 minutes.
The Hurricanes first put the ball into a scrum after 36 minutes. From the scrum Barrett broke and the Hurricanes were on the attack., Perenara got over but the TMO was able to advise that there had been a knock-on.
The Hurricanes attacked in injury time in the half till Vito knocked on.
The second half began as the first had – with both sides attacking.
Jason Eaton was penalised at a maul and again Slade goaled to increase the Highlanders' lead to 16-12 after 46 minutes.
But that lead ceased when the Hurricanes attacked and Perenara scored an impossible try, emphasising the scrumhalf's strength. Without any impetus he got through the tackle of Joe Wheeler, then that of John Hardie, then that of Aaron Smith and scored as Elliot Dixon also tried to stop him. All of this happened in the space of about six metres. It was a remarkable try. 17-16 to the Hurricanes after 49 minutes.
The Highlanders lost a line-out and nearly scored a try. Perenara kicked downfield and Gear started a counter that went wide right. Ben Smith broke and gave to Jason Emery who dived for the corner but the TMO noticed that his elbow had nicked the touchline.
The Hurricanes threw in skew and so the Highlanders had a five metre-scrum but Hurricane pressure won the visitors the ball.
Back came the Highlanders with Thorn charging at the line. Again the home side had a five-metre scrum and =again the Hurricanes put pressure on them, but they got the ball and then May was offside. 19-17 to the Highlanders after 57 minutes.
The Highlanders were back on the attack. From a line-out Gear broke and Lomu-ed Alapati Leiua but Aaron Smith was sloppy behind the tackle, as he was often, and this time knocked on.
The Highlanders overthrew a line-out which gave the Hurricanes some ball and they raced downfield with a charge by Reggie Goodes. John Hardie was penalised at the tackle and Barrett gave the Hurricanes a 20-19 lead with 15 minutes to play.
Brayden Mitchell was penalised at a tackle which took the score to 23-19, out of penalty range with 9 minutes to play.
On 74 minutes Slade missed his only kick at goal and when the Hurricanes were penalised again he kicked out because a try was needed. The Highlanders won the line-out but accidental offside gave the Hurricanes a scrum.
Marshall went off and the next scrum, to the Highlanders, was uncontested, giving them their best scrum ball of the night. They attacked with many phases but lost the ball forward, giving the Hurricanes an uncontested scrum not far from their line. Perenara kicked the ball dead to end the game.
Man of the Match: TJ Perenara who was quick, strong and resourceful.
For the Highlanders:
Pens: Slade 4
For the Hurricanes:
Tries: Smith, Franks, Perenara
Pens: Barrett 2
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 John Hardie, 6 Joe Wheeler, 5 Jarrad Hoeata, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore (captain), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Ma'afu Fia, 18 Jake Paringatai, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Fumiaki Tanaka, 21 Lima Sopoaga, 22 Buxton Popoalii.
Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u/Ash Dixon, 17 Reggie Goodes/Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Tusi Pisi, 22 Andre Taylor.
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)