Super Rugby round eight
Hurricanes claim bonus-point victory
April 6, 2013
Tim Bateman produced a damaging performance in the Hurricanes' midfield
© Getty Images
The Hurricanes overcame the game-day withdrawal of key forwards Ben Franks and Victor Vito, landing three hammer blows in 10 minutes early in the second half to bring to a shuddering halt any sense of momentum in New South Wales Waratahs' ranks after two consecutive wins.
The hosts combined slick handling and pin-point kicking in greasy conditions to claim their fourth consecutive win and leap-frog the Blues and the Crusaders into second spot in the New Zealand conference.
They also punished fully mistakes by the Waratahs, with damaging and ever-threatening winger Julian Savea scoring the first of two tries, in the first half, after errors by Adam Ashley-Cooper and Drew Mitchell, and Reg Goodes, the replacement for Franks, capitalising after the Hurricanes had effected a midfield turnover. Goodes' try also featured a magician's sleight of hand from Conrad Smith in putting the loose-head prop into space.
Goodes was followed over the line by hooker Motu Matu'u, who outstripped winger Peter Betham to touch down a grubber kick behind the Waratahs' defence from Beauden Barrett, before Savea claimed his second of the game when he beat three cover defenders to a bouncing ball and sprinted clear under the posts.
The Waratahs showed a sense of adventure in the conditions - Mitchell, in particular, looking dangerous with ball in hand - and they were rewarded with tries from Bernard Foley, in the first half, the fly-half showing great awareness of runners to create space to ghost into after a clearing kick from TJ Perenara had been charged down, and Ashley-Cooper and Israel Folau in the second stanza. Michael Hooper also went close late int the game, denied only by desperate defence after the siren.
The Hurricanes capitalised on New South Wales errors (video available only in Australia)%]
"We played well," Smith said of his Hurricanes. "We've got plenty of firepower to take those opportunities, and we racked up our points pretty quick. We probably sat on it a little, softened up a bit at the end and let them in a bit more than we would have liked, but they're a quality side."
Smith paid tribute to the improved depth of his squad, saying: "We were pretty thin at the back of the bus on the way to the game tonight. Probably last year that would have cost us. I think it shows we've got a bit of depth in the side. The guys can step up, and it wasn't really an issue."
Waratahs captain Dave Dennis lamented his team's error rate. "That's what's been killing us most of this year, to be honest. We talked about not giving them easy possession, and we gave them too much ball inside our own half. They scored tries at the beginning of the second half, and it was hard to come back."
Despite a few defensive lapses, the Hurricanes - led by Smith - were back to their scintillating best on attack. Julian Savea's two tries were clinical - his second in particular was outstanding - while Goodes and Matu'u both scored on the wing to join Ben Franks as prop-cum-wingers for the Hurricanes this season. While Julian Savea was simply outstanding on attack, his brother Ardie, on debut after a four-week suspension, pressed him for Man of the Match honours with a heavy workload to ease the pain of Vito's absence.
The teams traded early penalties before the hosts scored the first try of the match, fantastic work from Ardie Savea and Goodes - after Mitchell had spilled a high ball from a clearing kick after a lineout awarded after Ashley-Cooper had floated a pass direct into touch - saw the ball reach Smith, who timed a precise pass to free Savea to sprint 30 metres home.
Foley scored to equalise for the visitors at 13-13 as both sides favoured free-flowing rugby at a frenetic pace, before further penalties saw the teams go into the break at 16-16. But the Hurricanes put the game away in a 10-minute spell after the break, before the late tries from Ashley-Cooper and Folau .
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand with Sportal