Rugby: Whirlwind second half sees Hurricanes blow away BrumbiesSave
By Campbell Burnes
One would hope the Lions are working hard at defusing crosskicks in their pre-tour strategy.
For, on the evidence of this Super Rugby clash at Napier's McLean Park, they will be on the receiving end of a few Beauden Barrett specials. The Hurricanes and All Blacks No 10 was as influential as ever with his pace, short passing and attacking kicks, which included setting up three tries, to Vince Aso, Cory Jane, and Ngani Laumape from crosskicks.
But the older of the Hurricanes' Barrett brothers was not the only prominent Hurricane, by any stretch, in a largely dominant home display, which saw 42 unanswered points to close the contest. Hooker Ricky Riccitelli charged around his old home turf, relishing his chance to wear the No 2 jersey for an extended period, though Dane Coles' return is imminent. Blade Thomson made a pleasing comeback, for 56 minutes, at No 8, and set up Aso for one of his three tries. Aso himself, at centre, took his season tally to 10, leading all comers. Skipper Brad Shields played strongly, as did Ardie Savea, especially in defence, where he was heavy.
Fullback Jordie Barrett slotted seven conversions from seven, so there is no hurry to pass the goalkicking duties back to his older brother. Callum Gibbins, with a brace of tries, and TJ Perenara both offered full impact off the pine.
The Australian conference-leading Brumbies were physical, as predicted, but outgunned, and they really only had the ascendancy for 10 minutes in the first stanza.
The upshot is that the Hurricanes secured a bonus point and leapt to the top of the table, though that will not last long. They will be giving headaches to opposing coaching staffs who will need to work out how to keep Beauden Barrett quiet, quell an increasingly confident scrum, and an under-rated pack that looked stung after last week's bruising from the Blues. No easy answers in there.
The first spell saw fluctuating fortunes, with the one constant being the Hurricanes' dominant scrum.
The home side roared to a 14-0 lead via tries to Aso, his eighth of 2017, and Jane. Aso's was a counter-attacking effort after a cut with Beauden Barrett. He busted the line from near halfway, and yet only beat two or three defenders. Jane wound the clock back to the RWC 2011 semifinal, his peerless aerial skills saw him leaping high to snaffle the obligatory Barrett crosskick.
The Brumbies looked crestfallen, if not shellshocked, but they then uncorked some superlative football in a seven minute purple patch which yielded three tries and sent the Hurricanes into oranges with much to ponder. Replacement prop Nic Mayhew stiffened the Brumbies scrum, but he also laid on a sweet try off a lineout move for Tevita Kuridrani. Joe Powell's try went through at least 10 pairs of hands and 80m. The common denominators were simple missed tackles by the Hurricanes in the Brumbies' 22m. They regrouped, to devastating effect.
The Hurricanes now enter their second bye week, while the Brumbies will next host the Blues in Canberra on April 30.
Hurricanes 56 (Vince Aso 3, Callum Gibbins 2, Cory Jane, Mark Abbott, Ngani Laumape tries; Jordie Barrett 7 con, Otere Black con)
Brumbies 21 (Tevita Kuridrani, Sam Carter, Joe Powell tries; Wharenui Hawera 3 con)
HT: 21-14 Brumbies
- Rugby World Cup