The Hurricanes moved back to the top of the Vodacom Super Rugby standings with a 35-19 bonus-point win over the Reds in Brisbane. BRENTON CHELIN reports.
The Canes bounced back from their first defeat of the season against the Waratahs, and although they weren't at their free-flowing best, they had too much firepower for the Reds.
The Reds showed during the first 60 minutes that if you can match the Hurricanes up front, and put them under pressure with confrontational defence, they are fallible. However, ill-discipline and mistakes at crucial times cost the hosts, who faded badly in the final quarter.
The Hurricanes struggled to impose themselves early on despite seeing plenty ball, and trailed 12-3 after two Samu Kerevi tries. Kerevi – one of the few shining lights in the Reds' dismal season – once again showed his prowess on attack, and was a constant threat for the hosts.
However, the imposing centre was at fault for the Hurricanes' first try, as Conrad Smith showed why he remains one of the pre-eminent centres in world rugby, beating three defenders before the ball was worked to TJ Perenara, who went over for a fine score.
That try, coming following a Beauden Barrett penalty, saw the Hurricanes hit the front, and they'd soon extend their advantage. This time it was Smith's centre partner, Ma'a Nonu, who scythed through the Reds' defence. A couple phases later Callum Gibbins went in, as the Hurricanes held a 20-12 lead at the break.
Barrett extended their lead at the start of the second half with another penalty, but the Reds hit back with their third try, coming through the ever-present Liam Gill.
The Reds were right in the game until that point, but a yellow card to Gill for a cynical infringement turned the match in favour of the visitors. They capitalised on their numerical advantage as Julian Savea helped himself to a try, before TJ Perenara grabbed his second of the night to wrap up the bonus point.
Reds – Tries: Samu Kerevi (2), Liam Gill. Conversions: James O'Connor (2).
Hurricanes – Tries: TJ Perenara (2), Callum Gibbins, Julian Savea. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (3). Penalties: Barrett (3).
Reds – 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 James O'Connor, 10 Nick Frisby, 9 Will Genia, 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Adam Korczyk, 5 James Horwill, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson, 1 James Slipper (c).
Subs: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Sef Faagase, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Marco Kotze, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 Scott Gale, 22 Campbell Magnay, 23 Chris Kuridrani.
Hurricanes – 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Callum Gibbins, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Subs: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 Chris Eves, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Adam Hill, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Rey Lee-Lo, 23 Cory Jane.
Photo: David Kapernick/Getty Images