The Hurricanes held off a spirited Blues side to maintain their unbeaten start to the season with a 30-23 victory in Palmerston North, writes BRENTON CHELIN.
Friday's result sees the Hurricanes move back above the Stormers to the summit of the Vodacom Super Rugby log. However, their performance against the basement-dwelling Blues was not a convincing one.
They were guilty at times of trying to be too expansive, looking for audacious offloads when a simpler option would've sufficed. When the passes stuck, the outcome was sensational, but against better teams than the Blues they may run into problems.
They started confidently enough, as TJ Perenara crossed the whitewash for the first try in the seventh minute after Beauden Barrett had opened the scoring with a penalty.
However, errors started to creep into their game, allowing the Blues back into the match. While the visitors' first try – an interception from Lolagi Visinia – came against the run of play, their second from Frank Halai was nothing less than they deserved after some good continuity.
A try from Matt Proctor closed out the half after an extended passage of play that started with Julian Savea taking a quick tap from deep in their own half. Barrett's perfectly weighted chip showed the value of a good tactical kick, even on attack, while his touchline conversion gave the hosts an 18-17 half-time lead.
Savea would grab the Canes' third try at the start of the second half, but the Blues remained within striking distance thanks to the boot of Ihaia West. However, two missed penalty attempts would prove costly, as the Blues failed to get across the line and claim the victory their performance deserved.
Hurricanes – Tries: TJ Perenara, Matt Proctor, Julian Savea (2). Conversions: Beauden Barrett (2). Penalties: Barrett (2).
Blues – Tries: Lolagi Visinia, Frank Halai. Conversions: Ihaia West (2). Penalties: West (3).
Hurricanes – 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Subs: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 Chris Eves, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Rey Lee-Lo, 23 James Marshall.
Blues – 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Charles Piutau, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Jimmy Cowan/Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Luke Braid (c), 6 Brendon O'Connor, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Subs: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta'avao/Sam Prattley, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park/Bryn Hall, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 George Moala.
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images