Hurricanes blow hot and cold
Hurricanes blow hot and coldSHARE
The Hurricanes recorded a deserving 46-30 win over the Southern Kings in Wellington on Saturday.
While the Canes will celebrate the bonus-point win, in which they outscored the tournament rookies by six tries three, it was an erratic performance in which the home team blew hot and cold.
In fact it was a 10-point blitz – including an intercept try – in the last 10 minutes which eventually sealed the win, after the Kings remained in with a chance of a major upset.
The Hurricanes have now posted their third straight win to rise up the Super Rugby ladder into the play-off region – leaving them second in the New Zealand conference and fifth overall – although the Blues and Crusaders have the opportunity to overtake them with wins in their games this weekend.
The hosts secured a four-try bonus point in the first half – with Ben May, Conrad Smith, TJ Perenara and Jeremy Thrush all dotting down to give the Hurricanes a 29-16 half-time lead.
The Kings scored the first try of the second half, but Brad Shields and Alapati Leiua then crossed for the 'Canes' fifth and sixth five-pointers.
It wasn't always as easy as the final scoreline suggests, as Hurricanes saw their 29-16 half-time lead evaporate to just six points midway through the second half.
Kings' superboot Demetri Catrakilis had the opportunity to pull the visitors within three in the 60th minute, but just missed his penalty attempt.
With the Hurricanes looking flat memories of last year's loss to the Cheetahs, where they blew a 20 point lead, came flooding back.
However the hosts were spurred into action and they added late tries to Brad Shields and Alapati Leiua to ensure there would be no repeat.
The scoring opened early for the Hurricanes when Ben May notched his first Super Rugby try, in his 55th game, when he crossed in the third minute after some effective build-up work by both backs and forwards.
Captain Conrad Smith, scrumhalf TJ Perenara and lock Jeremy Thrush, also crossed to ensure the Hurricanes had secured a bonus point for scoring four tries by half-time, while first five-eighth Beauden Barrett slotted three conversions and penalty.
The home side, however were their own worst enemies, as they gave away silly penalties inside their own half, which Catrakilis punished with three penalties at times that dragged his side back within touching distance.
Catrakilis also converted Stephen Sykes' 16th-minute try after the lock had ripped the ball from a team mate at an attacking maul and trotted over untouched.
The match, however, lost all shape after the break with the Hurricanes unable to get any momentum as they dropped the ball and were penalised heavily for silly errors.
Kings' centre Ronnie Cooke scored a 48th minute try from an elegantly executed move that had been perfected on the training ground, which Catrakilis converted to drag his side to 29-23.
The match, however, went into a dull arm-wrestle before Shields scored after Barrett put him in space down the flank. Leiua added his second intercept try to blow out the scoreline.
Replacement hooker Hannes Franklin grabbed the King's third try with less than five minutes remaining, though by then there was no chance of a comeback.
Man of the match: George Whitehead had his moments for the Kings, Sergeal Petersen exited at times, Demetri Catrakilis was his team's best back, Jacques Engelbrecht, Wimpie van der Walt and Steven Sykes were the visitors' best forwards. Conrad Smith was classy as always, TJ Perenara had flashes of his true potential and Ben May scored a good try. However, our award goes to flank Brad Shields – who was a monster on defence and made plenty of ground with the ball in hand.
For the Hurricanes:
Tries: May, Smith, Perenara, Thrush, Shields, Leiua
Cons: Barrett 5
Pen: Barrett 2
For the Southern Kings:
Tries: Sykes, Cooke, Franklin
Cons: Catrakilis 2, Whitehead
Pens: Catrakilis 3
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (captain)/ Alapati Leiua, 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, 17 Reggie Goodes, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 James Marshall, 22 Reynold Lee-Lo.
Southern Kings: 15 George Whitehead , 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss (captain), 11 Hadleigh Parkes, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Devin Oosthuizen, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Hannes Franklin, 17 Grant Kemp, 18 Rynier Bernardo, 19 Daniel Adongo, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Waylon Murray, 22 Elric van Vuuren.
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)