Vince Aso scored a hat-trick of tries as the Hurricanes sealed a 56-21 bonus-point win against the Brumbies in Wellington on Friday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
What a game and what a result this was.
Given the form of both teams, the defending champions were clear-cut favourites coming into this contest. And although the result did go the way many predicted, the Canes didn't have it all their own way against a Brumbies outfit who refused to play the role of pushovers.
Aso will deservedly be heralded for his hat-trick heroics, but he benefitted from the brilliance of Beauden Barrett. The world's best flyhalf yet again put his stamp of authority on the game with a number of telling linebreaks and offensive kicks. Additionally, Jordie Barrett gave a flawless kicking performance with eight conversions from as many attempts.
The Hurricanes led 14-0 after 13 minutes of play, thanks to tries by Aso and Cory Jane and looked on course for an easy home win. But the Brumbies, who had attempted to match the hosts' expansive style up to that stage, reverted to what works for them – set-piece play.
And it paid dividends as they evened things up at 14-14 with two quick tries, before taking the lead on the half-hour mark with a brilliant try. From the kick-off, which was fielded inside the 22, the ball was shifted through 10 pairs of hands before scrumhalf Joe Powell scored at the other end.
In stark contrast, the second half was a one-sided affair as the Hurricanes blew the Brumbies off the park with six unanswered tries. Aso completed his hat-trick shortly after the interval with two scores, which put the Canes back in front.
The Brumbies where then reduced to 14 men when Wharenui Hawera was yellow-carded for deliberately slowing the ball down, and from there the Canes seized control.
They added four tries, including a brace from replacement Callum Gibbins, before the referee called time on the match and put the Brumbies out of their misery.
Hurricanes – Tries: Vince Aso (3), Cory Jane, Callum Gibbins (2), Mark Abbott, Ngani Laumape. Conversions: Jordie Barrett (8).
Brumbies – Tries: Tevita Kuridrani, Sam Carter, Joe Powell. Conversions: Wharenui Hawera (3).
Hurricanes – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields (c), 5 Vaea Fifita, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Ben May.
Subs: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Mike Kainga, 19 James Blackwell, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Otere Black, 23 Ben Lam.
Brumbies – 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Andrew Smith, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter (c), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 De Wet Roos, 22 Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23 Nigel Ah Wong.
Photo: Kerry Marshall/Getty Images