Kobus van Wyk scored two tries as the Hurricanes snapped their losing streak with a 25-18 victory over the Chiefs in Hamilton on Sunday, writes DYLAN JACK.
The win saw the Hurricanes get off the mark in Super Rugby Aotearoa after they had lost their opening two fixtures to the Blues and Crusaders. It also saw the Hurricanes go unbeaten in five matches against the Chiefs, the longest run either side has had against each other.
However, the win was not without controversy as referee Ben O’Keefe reduced the Hurricanes to 14 men for most of the second half after showing lock Scott Scrafton two yellow cards, leaving the visitors a man down for the final 20 minutes.
The first yellow card came as Scrafton was offsides at a lineout, while the second was shown after Damian McKenzie took a quick-tap near the Chiefs line and Scrafton did not retreat 10 metres before making a crucial try-saving tackle on the Chiefs fullback.
However, these calls were made even more egregious as Chiefs captain Sam Cane escaped any punishment after replays showed that he had committed a head-high, no-arms shoulder charge on TJ Perenara, which should have seen the loose-forward sent to the sin bin at the very least.
As it was in those final 20 minutes, the win was based largely on the Hurricanes’ superb defensive effort. The Chiefs dominated both possession and territory for large parts of the contest, but struggled to make it count, especially in the first half when they were simply swarmed by Hurricanes defenders. The aptly named Du’Plessis Kirifi was quite effective as he made a team-high nine tackles and won a crucial breakdown turnover.
For all the time that they spent defending, the Hurricanes made the most of the ball that they got. The visitors welcomed Jordie Barrett back from injury and the fullback made a massive difference as he twice set South African wing Van Wyk up with two simple finishes in the corner.
Barrett’s boot was just as key as it allowed the Hurricanes to escape some dangerous defensive positions and he also slotted a massive penalty from inside his own half to allow to go into the break 20-3 ahead.
The Chiefs will now be going into a bye with no wins from their first four games of the tournament. Warren Gatland’s side have really struggled to find their rhythm on attack especially in the opening weeks of Aotearoa and will want to use their bye to sort this out before they host the Hurricanes in their next fixture.
Chiefs – Tries: Penalty try, Lachlan Boshier. Penalties: McKenzie (2).
Hurricanes – Tries: Kobus van Wyk (2), Du’Plessis Kirifi. Conversions: Jordie Barrett (2). Penalties: Barrett (2)
Chiefs – 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Sean Wainui, 13 Tumua Manu, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Mitchell Brown, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Aidan Ross.
Subs: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Reuben O’Neill, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Dylan Nel, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Kaleb Trask, 23 Solomon Alaimalo.
Hurricanes – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Fraser Armstrong.
Subs: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Ben May, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Devan Flanders/Liam Mitchell, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Billy Proctor, 23 Wes Goosen.
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images