The Blues claimed a stunning 24-15 upset win over the 12-man Hurricanes side in Wellington on Saturday to end a nine-game losing streak in this fixture.
Despite a dominant first half, during which they dominated every facet of the game, the Hurricanes held a slender one-point lead at the break. The Blues though, for all their struggles and limitations during that period, reined in the Hurricanes’ attack to stay in the contest.
In the first notable act of the second half, the Hurricanes were reduced to 14 men for the remainder of the game when prop Tyrel Lomax was shown a straight red card, but even that didn’t diminish the match as a contest. The sides went blow for blow in an enthralling half before further ill-discipline hamstrung the Hurricanes and propelled the Blues.
In a carbon copy display of the Blues’ performance against the Stormers last week, the Hurricanes turned the tables on the Auckland-based by snatching the lion’s share of possession, pinning them into their own half and leaving the defence bamboozled by the variation in their attack. And it paid off big time as wing Ben Lam powered over to put them in the lead.
🏀🏉 NBA or Super Rugby? Vaea Fifita with the @NBA style lay-up to set up Ben Lam for the try.
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) March 7, 2020
After that, the Hurricanes looked to bring the travel factor into play by exploiting the fact that the visitors had only landed back in New Zealand on Tuesday. The Blues were forced to make tackle after tackle, but much to the frustration of the Hurricanes, they did so without compromising their tryline again.
To make matters worse for the Hurricanes, they conceded a converted try, and with that the lead, just three minutes before the break. But Jordie Barrett nailed a penalty to get the home team 8-7 in front at the half-time.
But even when Lomax got his marching orders for a reckless shoulder charge to the head of a Blues player, the visitors failed to take advantage as a converted try either way saw the Hurricanes retain their one-point lead.
The tide would eventually turn in favour of the Blues as the Hurricanes’ capitulated. They were down to 12 players after Vaea Fifita and Jordie Barrett were both yellow carded late in the game and leaked 10 more points, including a penalty try, as the Blues ended a nine-match losing run in this fixture.
Hurricanes – Tries: Ben Lam, Kobus van Wyk. Conversion: Jordie Barrett. Penalty: Barrett.
Blues – Tries: Akira Ioane, Mark Telea, Penalty try. Conversions: Otere Black (2), automatic conversion. Penalty: Black.
Hurricanes – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Xavier Numia.
Subs: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 James Blackwell, 20 Devan Flanders, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Billy Proctor, 23 Wes Goosen.
Blues – 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Joe Marchant, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Jacob Pierce, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Subs: 16 James Parsons, 17 Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Matt Duffie.
Photo: Elias Rodriguez/Getty Images