TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett outplayed their halfback counterparts in the Super Rugby final, according to SARugbymag.co.za’s Opta-powered stats.
As had been predicted, the clash was played in typically wet Wellington conditions, and yet the Lions failed to adjust their approach to more pragmatic finals rugby. Not only did they turn down three important points in the first half, but they were also guilty of playing too much rugby in their own half, while failing to exit accurately with the boot.
In the first half, the Lions made 131m to 97, 54 carries to 34 and beat seven defenders to two. They also enjoyed 62% of possession and 56% of territory, and yet trailed by seven points at the break.
At full time, the Lions also boasted better statistics in terms of all those attacking figures, but the fact that they never looked like winning the clash again pointed to the fact that defence often trumps attack in high-pressure finals rugby.
The Hurricanes’ rush defence was outstanding throughout the game, with their line speed cutting down the time and space of halfbacks Faf de Klerk and Elton Jantjies, and forcing them into poor passes and hurried errors.
The Canes’ loose trio were outstanding on the day, with No 8 Victor Vito completing nine tackles, while Ardie Savea racked up 14 tackles and fellow flanker Brad Shields contributed 12 hits.
While there was plenty of effective work done on defence, Perenara and Barrett were cool, calm and collected as the Canes’ in-form halfback pairing. Perenara made seven kicks, 51 passes and completed 10 tackles. Barrett also produced another Man of the Match performance, putting boot to ball on 21 occasions, making 60m and executing five tackles.
Barrett’s goal-kicking in difficult conditions was also out of the top drawer, with the flyhalf slotting two penalties and two conversions for a 100% success rate in the final. By contrast, Jantjies missed two important penalties.
In the final reckoning, the Hurricanes’ defence and superior game management enabled them to come away with a historic first-ever Super Rugby title, with Barrett particularly taking the better options, while producing an outstanding kicking performance.
Photo: Simon Watts/Getty Images