Kobus van Wyk was on the scoreboard again as the Hurricanes beat the Highlanders 17-11 in their Super Rugby Aotearoa showdown in Wellington on Sunday.
Continuing his rich vein of form, Van Wyk followed up last week’s two-try performance with another five-pointer in front of the Hurricanes’ home fans this week. The result sees the Hurricanes notch up just their second win of the competition, but it is enough to see them overtake the Highlanders in third position in the standings.
This contest had everything: Big hits, big carries, scintillating linebreaks, superb offloads. And yet, for the opening 30 minutes, it was stubborn defence – from both sides – that came out on top as neither the Hurricanes nor the Highlanders could break down the opposition’s defence completely to score.
With the deadlock still intact as the 30-minute mark approached, it was an All Black on All Black one-on-one that led to the first try as TJ Perenara wrong-footed Aaron Smith to unlock the defensive line and score. The Highlanders had a chance of their own to get on the board, but flyhalf Mitch Hunt sprayed his penalty attempt just wide of the target.
And the visitors were made to rue that missed opportunity, as the Hurricanes extended their lead at the first chance they got down the other end of the field. Jordie Barrett run onto a pop pass in space, but unselfishly flung a long, lofted pass out wide to Van Wyk, who beat two defenders while flirting with the touchline to finish brilliantly in the corner.
Down by down at the break, the Highlanders were under the cosh yet again at the restart as the Hurricanes mercilessly pounded away at the tryline for the first seven minutes of the half. The Highlanders manned up well, but in the end it was just a numbers game as the Hurricanes’ patience on attack paid off when flank Devan Flanders stretched out to score.
However, the Highlanders were not deprived of chances themselves. They won several penalties, but a malfunctioning lineout was their undoing. Every time they had a throw-in in a promising position on the field, the Hurricanes would snatch possession back and relief the pressure.
A quickfire eight-point haul via a penalty and a Smith try cut the deficit. That coincided with the Hurricanes getting a bit sloppy, putting the Highlanders in with a chance to gain the ascendancy and work their way back into the contest. But they couldn’t capitalise.
A last-minute penalty made it a six-point game and there was just enough seconds left to allow for one last kick off. But as they went in search of a winning score, the Highlanders again let themselves down with an erroneous attacking lineout, which saw the Hurricanes boot the ball into touch to end the match and seal the victory.
.@Highlanders co-captains are 🔥
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) July 12, 2020
Hurricanes – Tries: TJ Perenara, Kobus van Wyk, Devan Flanders. Conversion: Jordie Barrett.
Highlanders – Try: Aaron Smith. Penalties: Mitch Hunt (2).
Hurricanes –15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Devan Flanders, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Ben May.
Subs: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Billy Proctor, 23 Wes Goosen.
Highlanders – 15 Michael Collins, 14 Scott Gregory, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Ayden Johnstone
Subs: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Jesse Parete, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Teariki Ben-Nicholas.
Photo: Getty Images