Ngani Laumape scored a brace of tries as the Hurricanes secured a 34-12 bonus-point win over the Force in Perth on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
For the Hurricanes, it’s a crucial 11th win of the season that sees them leapfrog the Chiefs back into second spot in the New Zealand conference, although they remain 10 points behind the unbeaten Crusaders.
While the Force competed impressively for the first hour of play, the outstanding defence of the Hurricanes ultimately laid the foundation for victory, with three tries in the final 15 minutes stretching the winning margin.
The Hurricanes made a storming start to the clash and a typically potent counter-attack resulted in a superb try, finished off by Laumape. However, against most expectations, the Hurricanes had to weather a considerable storm from there, with the Force dominating territory and possession.
Despite this ascendancy, though, the Force simply couldn’t penetrate the powerful Hurricanes defence (58 tackles were completed without a single miss in the first half), while the visitors then struck a crucial blow just before half-time as prop Loni Uhila barged over to score.
The Force did finally find a way to open their account when fullback Dane Haylett-Petty pounced on a loose ball to score right after the restart, but the Canes responded with a beautifully worked lineout set play, which ultimately saw flanker Reed Prinsep dot down to help establish a 10-point buffer.
The Hurricanes then effectively sealed the result when captain TJ Perenara produced a moment of magic to create a try for Vince Avo in the 67th minute, while, to make matters worse for the Force, Haylett-Petty was shown a yellow card for a late tackle.
A minute later Perenara went over to score an opportunistic try, before Laumape then completed his double, but the Force would at least finish the clash with a consolation try to Richard Hardwick.
Force – Tries: Dane Haylett-Petty, Richard Hardwick. Conversion: Peter Grant.
Hurricanes – Tries: Ngani Laumape (2), Loni Uhila, Reed Prinsep, Vince Aso, TJ Perenara. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (2).
Force – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 James Verity-Amm, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Francois van Wyk.
Subs: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Mitchell Short, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Marcel Brache.
Hurricanes – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Brad Shields, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Vaea Fifita, 4 Sam Lousi, 3 Ben May, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Loni Uhila.
Subs: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Otere Black, 23 Nehe Milner-Skudder.
Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images