Beauden Barrett scored 23 points in the Hurricanes’ 60-27 thumping of the Cheetahs on Saturday, reports JON CARDINELLI.
The Hurricanes ran in nine tries during a game that was characterised by abjectly poor defence. The Cheetahs produced some brilliant attacking plays, with fullback Willie le Roux featuring prominently in a couple of their scores, but their approach lacked balance and was largely counter-productive.
The Cheetahs committed the cardinal sin of conceding points immediately after scoring their own. The defence was devoid of precision, power, and attitude, and it wasn’t a surprise to see the Hurricanes securing a bonus-point try before half-time.
Barrett was in outstanding touch. The All Blacks flyhalf kicked well for goal initially, and his contributions with ball in hand proved crucial to the outcome.
It was Barrett’s chip and regather try in the first half that proved the catalyst for the Hurricanes. He would add a further five points to his personal tally in the second, breaking the Cheetahs line and scoring from close range. Barrett made it look easy.
The Cheetahs got their tactics wrong for a clash of this nature. Their fast and loose approach played into the Hurricanes’ hands, as the New Zealand side would swoop on the their attacking mistakes and often translate turnovers into points.
The Hurricanes scored right before half-time through James Marshall to take an important 29-20 lead. There was another game-shaping moment shortly after the break when Le Roux was adjudged to have knocked the ball down deliberately, and was sent to the sin bin. The Hurricanes’ capitalised on the one-man advantage, adding two tries in Le Roux’s absence.
Restored to their full complement, the Cheetahs defence still struggled to resist the rampant Hurricanes. Mike Proctor added the hosts’ seventh try and a subsequent score for Conrad Smith, who was playing in his 100th Vodacom Super Rugby match, allowed the Hurricanes’ to surpass the 50-point mark.
This performance showed why the Cheetahs will not contend for a play-off place this season. And while the Hurricanes were in dominant attacking form in this particular fixture, they also failed to display the necessary defensive structure and desire to be considered serious title challengers.
Hurricanes – Tries: Dane Coles, Beauden Barrett (2), Chris Smylie, James Marshall, Jeremy Thrush, Matt Proctor, Conrad Smith, Alapati Leiua. Conversions: Barrett (5), Marty Banks. Penalty: Barrett.
Cheetahs – Tries: Willie le Roux, Phillip van der Walt, Francois Uys. Conversions: Johan Goosen (3). Penalties: Goosen (2).
Hurricanes – 15 James Marshall, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Mark Reddish, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Subs: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Chris Eves, 18 John Schwalger, 19 James Broadhurst, 20 Jack Lam, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Matt Proctor, 23 Marty Banks.
Cheetahs – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), Caylib Oosthuizen.
Subs: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Rossouw de Klerk, 19 Andries Ferreira, 20 Jean Cook, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Hennie Daniller.
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images