The Hurricanes put in a determined performance to claim a 29-14 bonus-point win against the Reds in Wellington on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Hurricanes are back to winning ways, if not back to their best. In the wake of a disappointing loss to the Sharks, and following the revelation that several players breached team protocol while in Durban, the Hurricanes produced a gutsy display to subdue and conquer the Reds at the Cake Tin.
On this occasion, the Hurricanes forwards fired and the robust defence forced the opposition into making mistakes. While the hosts did spurn several attacking opportunities of their own, the determination of their defence kept them on top for much of the contest.
Beauden Barrett produced a pinpoint cross-kick to set up the South African-born wing Wes Goosen in the 15th minute. Meanwhile, Ayumu Goromaru goalled two penalties at the other end of the field.
The Hurricanes eventually earned some reward for their forward dominance at the end of the first half. Reds flanker Hendrik Tui was shown a yellow card for a maul transgression right on his own tryline. The Hurricanes opted to set another lineout from the ensuing penalty, and then scored through skipper Dane Coles. With Barrett’s conversion, the Hurricanes led 12-6 at half-time.
The hosts struck right after the break to strengthen their grip on the contest. Their defence had done well to hassle the Reds halfbacks in the first half, and the advancing Hurricanes line forced Jake McIntyre into the pocket.
The flyhalf threw a loose pass that bounced behind his team-mates, and the Hurricanes pounced. Jason Woodward booted the ball ahead, regathered and scored.
The Hurricanes did lose focus in the 55th minute when the defence failed to man the gap at the back of the lineout. The Reds exploited this weakness, and wing Chris Feauai-Sautia ran a great line to beat several defenders and score.
That try narrowed the deficit to just three points. The Hurricanes had a chance to extend their lead moments later when Barrett lined up a shot at goal. The All Blacks pivot, who missed a total of three kicks from the tee in this match, pushed it wide.
The Hurricanes did make a telling play in the 66th minute. Replacement Ngani Laumape powered over the tryline from close range, and this time Barrett made no mistake with his conversion attempt. The play saw the hosts stretching their lead to 10 points, and restoring their three-try lead.
The Reds attempted to finish with a flourish. They had an opportunity to score a try at the death and secure a losing bonus point.
The Hurricanes defence did well to deny the Reds in those final minutes. Woodward intercepted a Reds pass and ran 85m to score. The try ensured that the Hurricanes ended the contest with the bonus point.
Hurricanes – Tries: Wes Goosen, Dane Coles Jason Woodward (2), Ngani Laumape. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (2).
Reds – Try: Chris Feauai-Sautia. Penalties: Ayumu Goromaru (3).
Hurricanes – 15 James Marshall, 14 Jason Woodward, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Vince Aso, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Jeff To'omaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (c), 1 Reg Goodes.
Subs: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Loni Uhila, 18 Ben May, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Ngani Laumape, 23 Willis Halaholo.
Reds – 15 Ayumu Goromaru, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Anthony Fainga’a, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Curtis Browning, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Ben Matwijow, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 James Slipper (c).
Subs: 16 Matt Mafi, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Michael Gunn, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Duncan Paia’aua, 23 Junior Laloifi.
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images