Beauden and Jordie Barrett put on a tactical masterclass as the Hurricanes claimed a 41-22 bonus-point win over the Stormers in Wellington on Friday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Stormers' three-game tour to New Zealand is now a thing of the past. While they were more competitive against the Hurricanes than in the preceding contests against the Crusaders and Highlanders, they ultimately failed to claim a single log point over the course of the three-game sojourn. Not since 1998 have the Stormers lost all three matches on a New Zealand tour.
The Hurricanes outscored the Stormers by seven tries to one. Four of those tries were scored in the first half, and all four involved at least one of the supremely gifted Barrett brothers.
Beauden put the Stormers under pressure during the early stages with his accurate kicking into space. A pinpoint cross-kick to Cory Jane resulted in the first score for the hosts, and set the tone for much of the first half.
Indeed, that period of play served to highlight the difference between New Zealand and South African rugby. The Hurricanes kicked accurately and with the aim to retireve possession. The Stormers kicked inaccurately and their chasers showed no great urgency to rush up and pressure the man under the high ball.
By the 24th minute, the Hurricanes were out to a 17-3 lead. A kick into space by TJ Perenara was well-chased by Jordie Barrett, who tackled Nizaam Carr over the tryline and then managed to rip the ball off the Stormers No 8. TV replays showed the Hurricanes fullback stealing the ball before Carr had a chance to dot it down.
Jordie was involved in the Hurricanes' third try, throwing a speculative offload to set up Julian Savea for a straight run through an admittedly weak Stormers defence. Shortly before half-time, Beauden produced another perfect kick-pass to find his brother out on the right wing.
That said, it was not a polished performance by the defending champions. Jordie Barrett missed four shots on goal, and the forwards were outplayed during the third quarter of the contest. Perhaps the Hurricanes had already decided the game was in the bag, and that they would conserve their energy for the next fixture against the top-ranked Crusaders.
The Stormers actually outscored the Hurricanes by 7-5 while hooker Bongi Mbonambi was in the sin bin for a cynical infringement. SP Marais slotted two penalties in the dying moments of the first stanza. A further three-pointer after the break saw the Stormers drawing level with the hosts.
The Hurricanes battled to breach the Stormers defence in the third quarter. But while the visitors produced an improved showing in the second stanza, they failed to make their own scoring chances count.
The Hurricanes continued to turn down kickable penalties in favour of a lineout or scrum. Ngani Laumape breached the Stormers defence twice in the fourth quarter, first from close range and then after a Savea break. The latter movement was started in the Hurricanes' 22 when Beauden Barrett found Savea with yet another kick-pass.
The man himself had the final say, darting over from close range after the hooter to seal another emphatic victory for the Hurricanes.
Hurricanes – Tries: Cory Jane, Jordie Barrett (2), Julian Savea, Ngani Laumape (2), Beauden Barrett. Conversions: Jordie Barrett (3).
Stormers – Try: Ramone Samuels. Conversion: Robert du Preez. Penalties: Robert du Preez, SP Marais (4).
Hurricanes – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Brad Shields, 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 Reed Prinsep, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Otere Black, 23 Ben Lam.
Stormers – 15 SP Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi (c), 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Subs: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Oli Kebble, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Dan Kriel, 23 Bjorn Basson.
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images