The Hurricanes staved off a second-half fightback from the Rebels to claim a 29-19 win over the Rebels in Wellington on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
The Canes have made a habit of winning ugly this season, and they did it again on this occasion. Despite leading 26-0 after half an hour of play, they then conceded 19 unanswered points in the second period. However, a late Jordie Barrett penalty eventually settled the nerves and ensured they would come away with a fourth successive win.
During the opening exchanges of this clash it looked like the Hurricanes would be set for a one-sided win, with Ngani Laumape and Beauden Barrett scoring superb tries as the hosts opened up a handy 14-point lead.
It was all one-way traffic during that first quarter, which saw the Hurricanes regularly exposing holes in a woeful Rebels defence. Wes Goosen and Vaea Fifita scored next to take the New Zealand side out to a 26-0 advantage that they would take into the break.
In the first half alone, the rampant Canes made 310m to 169, beat 24 defenders to 10, while the Rebels missed a whopping 24 tackles (making just 50).
🚚 Ngani Laumape. No contest there.
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) May 4, 2019
Although the game degenerated into a rather scrappy affair after what had been a blistering start, it was the Rebels who looked a completely different side after the resumption as they dominated possession and began to apply some real pressure on the Hurricanes.
With the Canes looking somewhat guilty of slipping into a state of complacency, Matt Philip and Billy Meakes went over for well-deserved tries to suddenly reduce the deficit to 12 points heading into the final 15 minutes.
The Rebels’ quite stunning comeback didn’t stop there. In the 70th minute Reece Hodge exposed space out wide to score in the corner, and almost out of nowhere it was just a seven-point ball game. Yet, a late penalty to Barrett, and a horrible miss from Quade Cooper, ensured the Canes would ultimately emerge victorious.
Hurricanes – Tries: Ngani Laumape, Beauden Barrett, Wes Goosen, Vaea Fifita. Conversions: Barrett (3). Penalty: Jordie Barrett.
Rebels – Tries: Matt Philip, Billy Meakes, Reece Hodge. Conversions: Quade Cooper (2).
Hurricanes – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Chase Tiatia, 10 Beauden Barrett (c), 9 Richard Judd, 8 Reed Prinsep, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Asafo Aumu, 1 Fraser Armstrong.
Subs: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Kane Le’aupepe, 20 Liam Mitchell, 21 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 22 Finlay Christie, 23 James Marshall
Rebels – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (c), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Rob Leota, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Subs: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Pone Fa’amausili, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Billy Meakes, 23 Campbell Magnay.
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images