It’s Beauden Barrett and TJ Perenara vs Morne Steyn and Fourie du Preez as the 2016 Hurricanes welcome the 2010 Bulls to Wellington in Game 14 of the Greatest Super Rugby Team tournament.
The 2016 Hurricanes repeated their efforts from the 2015 season, finishing top of both the New Zealand and overall conferences and progressing through to host the final at the Westpac Stadium. Only this time, they were able to shut down a dangerous Lions team and win 20-5 to claim their very first title.
Unlike 2015, where the Hurricanes looked likely to finish the regular season first with a number of rounds to go, they were sitting in seventh going into the final week of the regular season and, while guaranteed a playoff spot, they required a number of upset results to elevate them to first. In particular, the Lions losing to the Jaguares – after sending a second-string side to play in Argentina – and scoring no match points, thereby losing their chance to host the final.
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Nevertheless, the 2016 Hurricanes were a very balanced team, illustrated by the fact that only the Crusaders and Chiefs scored more points than them during the regular season, while only the Highlanders, Stormers and Sharks conceded fewer overall points.
The halfback axis of Perenara and Barrett was integral to this team’s success, with Barrett finishing as the top points-scorer for the season with 223, which included nine tries, 50 conversions, 25 penalties and a drop goal.
They will, however, have their title credentials tested by the 2010 Bulls, who also finished top of the log, but defended the title they claimed in 2009.
The 2010 Bulls boasted by far the best attack that season, being the only team to score over 400 points, but their defence was less secure, as only the bottom-five teams conceded more points.
Frans Ludeke’s team had threats all over the park, including a star halfback pair of their own in Springboks Steyn and Du Preez, top try- scorer Gerhard van den Heever, No 8 Pierre Spies and a destructive second-row pair in captain Victor Matfield and enforcer Danie Rossouw. Their front row of Werner Kruger, Gary Botha and Gurthro Steenkamp was also one of the best in the competition that year.
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2016 Hurricanes – 15 James Marshall, 14 Corey Jane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Jason Woodward, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Loni Uhila.
Subs: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Mike Kainga, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Vince Aso, 23 Julian Savea.
2010 Bulls – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Subs: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Bees Roux, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Derick Kuun, 20 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 21 Jaco van der Westhuizen, 22 Pedrie Wannenburg.