Beauden Barrett scored 18 points as the Hurricanes claimed a 38-13 bonus-point win over the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
Both teams came into this match with four wins and two defeats, but the momentum was with the Hurricanes who had won all their games consecutively.
The Hurricanes overcame a testing first quarter, before a superb all-round performance by Barrett – including two tries – inspired them to a comprehensive victory.
The Rebels dominated the breakdown, winning 11 turnover penalties, but they failed to deal with the Hurricanes' skilful attacking game.
The Rebels made a good start to the match, striking the first blow after Julian Savea clumsily slipped on a patch of sand, leaving Dom Shipperley free to run on to Tamati Ellison's grubber kick for an opportunistic opening try.
From the restart, the hosts conceded a breakdown penalty, but Barrett's attempt hit the post and the Rebels cleared. Moments later, the flyhalf made up for his miss with a searing run through the heart of the Rebels defence to set up Victor Vito for the equaliser before adding the extras.
The lead exchanged hands again with fullback Reece Hodge slotting a penalty to put the Rebels 8-7 up.
But the Hurricanes then seized control of proceedings and tries by Cory Jane, Barrett and former Rebels player Jason Woodward gave them a 26-8 lead at the break.
The Rebels were in danger of suffering a big defeat, but credit must go to their defence which was a little tighter in the second half, restricting the Hurricanes to only two scores.
In fact, only after flank Sean McMahon was sin-binned for playing the ball on the ground, did the Hurricanes cross the tryline again through Ardie Savea.
Barrett missed that conversion, but fittingly scored his team's final try from a partially charged-down kick.
The Rebels did manage to break the Canes defence in the last minute through centre Sefu Naivalu, who released Cam Crawford, but it was scant consolation.
Rebels – Try: Dom Shipperley, Cam Crawford. Penalty: Reece Hodge.
Hurricanes – Tries: Victor Vito, Cory Jane, Beauden Barrett (2), Jason Woodward, Ardie Savea. Conversions: Barrett (4).
Rebels – 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Sefu Naivalu, 11 Cam Crawford, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker (c), 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Sean McMahon, 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Cruze Ah Nau.
Subs: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Tom Moloney, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Dan Hawkins, 23 Jonah Placid.
Hurricanes – 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Vince Aso, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (c), 1 Reggie Goodes.
Subs: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Ben May, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Tony Lambourn, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Otere Black, 23 Ngani Laumape.
Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images