The Hurricanes scored three second-half tries to claim a come-from-behind 29-23 victory over the Sunwolves in Tokyo on Friday. DYLAN JACK reports.
Despite struggling in the first half and going into the break 13 points behind, the Hurricanes were able to punish a sloppy second-half performance from the Sunwolves and stay with the chasing pack in the New Zealand conference.
The Sunwolves, who well and truly outplayed the visitors in the first half, have now lost five games in a row at home for the second time in Vodacom Super Rugby.
The home side got off to a flier as inside centre Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, who usually plays in the loose trio, made a linebreak off a lineout and floated a pass to Semisi Masirewa to score. Parker added a conversion and a penalty to see the Sunwolves go 10-0 up after 13 minutes.
The Hurricanes hit back soon afterwards as TJ Perenara sniped around a ruck and sold a dummy to go clean through under the posts.
However, the Sunwolves continued to pile on the pressure and created havoc through Masirewa in particular, as the Hurricanes were missing their usual attacking accuracy without the Barrett brothers. Despite a couple of missed try-scoring opportunities, Parker kicked a further two penalties to ensure that the Sunwolves capitalised.
A piece of brilliance from Parker, who put through a deft cross-kick, allowed Masirewa to pluck the ball from the air and stroll in for his second.
While the Hurricanes tried to respond before the break, they were frustrated by an excellent scramble defence, but Fletcher Smith did kick a penalty to make it 23-10 at half-time.
The Sunwolves continued to threaten in the second half, but it was the Hurricanes who narrowed the deficit as Ben Lam scored in the corner, before Chase Tiatia grounded a charge-down to make it a one-point game.
The Hurricanes then took the lead for the first time in the match as they won a turnover inside their half and spread it wide to Wes Goosen, who chipped the ball ahead and won the race to ground it over the line.
Despite receiving more than a couple of chances to get a potential winning try in the final 10 minutes, the Sunwolves’ creaky set piece came back to haunt them, and the Hurricanes were able to secure a rare away win.
Sunwolves – Tries: Semisi Masirewa (2). Conversions: Hayden Parker (2). Penalties: Parker (3).
Hurricanes – Tries: TJ Perenara, Ben Lam, Chase Tiatia, Wes Goosen. Conversions: Fletcher Smith (3). Penalty: Smith.
Sunwolves – 15 Ryohei Yamanaka, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Josh Timu, 12 Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, 11 Semisi Masirewa, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Jamie Booth, 8 Hendrik Tui, 7 Dan Pryor (c), 6 Ben Gunter, 5 Luke Thompson, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Hiroshi Yamashita, 2 Nathan Vella, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Subs: 16 Atsushi Sakata, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Tom Rowe, 20 Shuhei Matsuhashi, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Jason Emery, 23 Jamie Henry.
Hurricanes – 15 Chase Tiatia, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Reed Prinsep, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Liam Mitchell, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Ben May, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Fraser Armstrong.
Subs: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Sam Henwood, 21 Richard Judd, 22 James Marshall, 23 Billy Proctor.
Photo: Toru Hanai/Getty Images