Hurricanes back in business

Date published: March 12 2011

The Hurricanes dusted off the cobwebs after a three-week break from Super Rugby to beat the Chiefs 29-26 in Wellington on Saturday.

The Hurricanes dusted off the cobwebs after a three-week break from Super Rugby to beat the Chiefs 29-26 in Wellington on Saturday.

It was a winning return for the men from New Zealand's capital who had not been seen since their opening loss in Round One, but got back into the swing of things with a victory.

The home side were outscored three tries to two, but the successful boots of Aaron Cruden and replacement Daniel Kirkpatrick ultimately proved to be the difference between the two sides in a closely fought encounter.

A late try to full-back Tim Nanai-Williams threatened to give the Chiefs a chance to take the game away from the Hurricanes at the death but the inability to retain possession for any length of time – a malaise that afflicted both sides throughout the match – denied the visitors that opportunity.

The Chiefs led 18-10 at one stage, but in a frantic closing 20 minutes, a dubious try to replacement Hurricanes scrum-half Tyson Keats and two penalties to Kirkpatrick sealed a dramatic comeback for the hosts.

The bottom two sides in the New Zealand conference were both desperate for a win to improve their standing on the ladder and this was evident by the pace of the game as they attacked from the off.

The Hurricanes were particularly fired up in their first game for three weeks after losing their opener to the Highlanders and then missing the next fortnight because of the Christchurch earthquake and a bye.

Chiefs fly-half Stephen Donald, fighting for survival as the All Blacks back-up to Dan Carter, relished the opportunity to mark Aaron Cruden and expose the defensive frailties of his leading rival.

He was rewarded with the opening try of the match from a double Cruden error when the Hurricanes pivot had a clearing kick charged down and Donald ran the ball back at his opposite number and crashed through his tackle to score.

Donald landed the conversion and two penalties to have the Chiefs ahead 13-10 at half-time with the Hurricanes' points coming from a try by prop John Schwalger who charged over from close range while Cruden landed the conversion and a penalty.

The Chiefs made a perfect start to the second half when Scott Waldrom won intercept ball, Tana Umaga made the break which took play up to the line and Waldrom was on hand again to score.

Cruden responded with two penalties for the Hurricanes and the match went into the final quarter with the Chiefs marginally ahead at 18-16.

The Hurricanes hit the front when Andre Taylor, earning a start as replacement for the injured Hosea Gear and proving to be the star of the home side, took play up to the Chiefs line where Keats dived towards the line.

The TMO ruled there was no reason why a try could not be awarded although replays appeared to indicate Keats had grounded the ball short of the line.

Replacement fly-half Kirkpatrick landed the conversion from out wide and added a penalty to put the Hurricanes ahead by eight, meaning the Chiefs would have to score at least once for a bonus point and twice to win.

When Mike Delany closed the gap to five points with a penalty, Kirkpatrick immediately replied with his second to restore the eight-point margin.

Nanai-Williams then scored for the Chiefs with two minutes remaining but the visitors were unable to get up again before the final whistle.

The scorers:

For Hurricanes:
Tries: Schwalger, Keats
Cons: Cruden, Kirkpatrick
Pens: Cruden 3, Kirkpatrick 2

For Chiefs:
Tries: Donald, Waldrom, Nanai-Williams
Con: Donald
Pens: Donald 2, Delany

Hurricanes: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Jayden Hayward, 11 Andre Taylor, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Chris Eaton, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Serge Lilo, 6 Jack Lam, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 James Broadhurst, 3 Neemia Tialata 2 Andrew Hore (c), 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Tyson Keats, 21 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 22 Charlie Ngatai.
Chiefs: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Dwayne Sweeney, 12 Tana Umaga, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Liam Messam (c), 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Scott Waldrom, 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Nathan White, 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Ben May.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Sona Taumalolo, 18 Romana Graham, 19 Fritz Lee, 20 Taniela Moa, 21 Mike Delany, 22 Jackson Willison.

Date: Saturday, March 12
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19:35 (06:35 GMT)
Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Joey Salmans (South Africa)
TMO: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)