Hurricanes tested but stay unbeaten

Date published: April 3 2015

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Brilliant running rugby took the Hurricanes to a seventh straight win this season as they stay unbeaten, after winning 25-20 against the Stormers.

Rising star Nehe Milner-Skudder was in irresistible form at full-back and scored a try as the Hurricanes opened up a 25-3 lead over their visitors from Cape Town by half-time.

Beauden Barrett's try just before the break, a sweeping move from turnover ball in the 'Canes 22 filled with perfect passing, will go down as one of the tries of the year.

This one looked like it would turn into a drubbing for the Stormers but they rallied in the second-half to quieten down the hosts and were in with a real shot of victory at the end, showing admirable resilience before falling short in a brave effort. 

Certain decisions at the breakdown will have left the Stormers coaching staff frustrated, particularly with players staying on their feet, but they have only themselves to blame for a quiet first-half.

Watching their side switch off a fair bit in the second-half will have irritated Hurricanes coaches Chris Boyd and John Plumtree but their side remain top of the table and are yet to be defeated in 2015.

Putting away arguably South Africa's best outfit so far this season will give them plenty of confidence.

The Hurricanes welcomed back a trio of All Blacks in Barrett, Julian Savea and Ben Franks but the fly-half was a little rusty with his kicking, missing two to touch with the second eventually costing the home side when Huw Jones finished in the corner.

The Edinburgh-born English back was a late replacement for Juan de Jongh but his try changed the look of the contest as the Stormers threatened to steal a win on the road, but it wasn't to be.

Played with a real openness from the start, Barrett grabbed the first points off the tee after ten minutes with Catrakilis responding after the Stormers scrum earned the first of a few penalties.

Barrett's second penalty restored the home side's lead before the fly-half conjured up a try for the livewire Milner-Skudder – a cross-field kick coming off Savea's boot with the full-back doing brilliantly to control the bouncing loose ball and hold off the threat of Cheslin Kolbe to score.

Every time Milner-Skudder touched the ball the crowd's anticipation grew in the first-half, as he skipped past defenders on multiple occasions.

His footwork ended in the 'Canes second try, beating Nic Groom and making the space out wide for Savea to cross over in the corner, with the TMO confirming the try after checking the final pass.

All of the attacks from the Stormers were purposeful and showed good intent, but the final touch wasn't there and when the ball was turned over by the hosts near to their line, a great fend and offload from Cory Jane started a move that after good touches from Brad Shields and Ma'a Nonu ended with a spectacular try for Barrett in the far corner.

More of the same was naturally expected after the interval but the Stormers dug in their heels and turned up the power, with their pack and the hard-working Damian de Allende featuring heavily as they controlled possession.

The Stormers forwards were rewarded for their scrum dominance with a penalty try as their confidence continued to grow.

It was a sign of real character from the away team following their disjointed first-half and when Jones found the corner following a fine offload from Vermeulen, the contest was suddenly alive again.

Kurt Coleman's penalty brought the Stormers within bonus-point territory and after the way they dominated the second 40 minutes they almost deserved to sneak a win on the road despite such a big half-time deficit.

A key turnover from Schalk Burger snuffed out a Hurricanes attack with time running out that could have clinched the game to give the Stormers renewed hope, but the final touch wasn't there as they couldn't go upfield for the required try.

Instead the hosts survived a surprisingly close shave given how they performed in the first-half, in fact clinging on at the end to make it seven wins from seven.

The scorers:

For Hurricanes:
Tries: Milner-Skudder, Savea, Barrett
Cons: Barrett 2
Pens: Barrett 2

For Stormers:

Tries: Penalty Try, Jones

Cons: Catrakilis 2

Pens: Catrakilis, Coleman

Hurricanes: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Ben May, 18 Chris Eves, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Adam Hill, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Rey Lee-Lo, 23 James Marshall.

Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Ruan Botha, 20 Michael Rhodes, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Johnny Kotze.

Referee: Rohan Hoffmann
Assistant Referees: Kane McBride, Mike Lash
TMO: Chris Wratt

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