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Lions let it slip

04th June 2011 06:20

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Hurricanes double: Hosea Gear

The Hurricanes recovered from trailing by five points at half-time to beat the Lions 38-27 at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.

The Lions looked to be cruising after leading 20-6 at one stage of the match, and went into the half-time sheds 20-15 ahead.

However, 23 points in twenty minutes after the break from the home side took the game out of sight from the visitors who could only manage a consolation score towards the end.

Seven tries were scored in all, with the Hurricanes bagging four of them to take home five points. However, lady luck was with the 'Canes after the build-up to two of Hosea Gear's tries were in fact forward.

It was the Hurricanes' fifth victory from 13 matches this season but still leaves them without a chance of reaching the play-offs.

Hurricanes pivot Aaron Cruden scored a first-half try among 23 points and Ma'a Nonu - who provided the last pass in both of Gear's touchdowns - scored a second-half try himself.

The Hurricanes started the game with an electric long-range counter-attack from inside their 22. Wing Alapati Leiua was dragged down short of the line and then a stab kick by centre Jayden Hayward forced an attacking 5m scrum.

From the scrum, the Hurricanes attacked across the posts and Cruden skipped through from close range to score the game's opening try.

The Lions replied with two successive penalties to pivot Elton Jantjies and they led 6-5 after 15 minutes.

The visitors pulled further ahead 10 minutes later with their first try to full-back Jaco Taute, chasing up his own kick and chase into the in-goal with the bounce of the ball landing in his favour.

Jantjies converted to give the visitors a 15-5 advantage, but Cruden pegged back three points almost straightaway with a penalty.

The Lions then spun the ball wide across to centre and captain Doppies Le Grange, who powered through the Hurricanes defenders out wide to score their second try. Jantjies converted from the right-hand sideline and the Lions led 20-8.

It was at this time when the Hurricanes launched their comeback thanks to Gear's first try of the match, after running off the shoulder of a telling break by Nonu. Cruden's conversion closed the score to 20-15.

Cruden closed the gap to just two points with a penalty just after half-time, as steady rain started falling. Cruden's fourth penalty put the Hurricanes ahead 21-20 with about half an hour remaining.

A pinpoint Nonu stab kick into the right-hand corner put pressure on Lions full-back Taute who failed to clear from near his tryline and the Hurricanes won a 5m scrum from which to attack from.

The Hurricanes moved the ball across the front of the Lions goalposts and Nonu busted through from close range to score his 43rd Super Rugby try under the posts. Cruden added the extras and the Hurricane led 28-20.

Gear then charged through once again on the shoulder of Nonu between Lions inside backs Jantjies and Butch James to score his second try of the evening, his 25th of his career and the Hurricanes' fourth of the evening.

Cruden's conversion meant that the Lions had to score three tries to reclaim the lead with 20 minutes remaining.

Instead, the Hurricanes were awarded another penalty and Cruden obliged with a well-taken long-range strike. This increased the lead to 38-20 and the Hurricanes had now scored 20 unanswered points.

The Lions came back and scored their third try of the night and second to Taute after a period of concerted pressure inside the Hurricanes' 22. James converted to narrow the gap to 38-27 with five minute remaining.

From the kick-off, the Lions surged back up the other end and pressed hard over the remaining time to add further points. But the Hurricanes dug deep until the final whistle with some outstanding defence and held on for the win.

The scorers:

For Hurricanes:
Tries: Cruden, Gear 2, Nonu
Cons: Cruden 3
Pens: Cruden 4

For Lions:
Tries: Taute 2, La Grange
Cons: Jantjies 2, James
Pens: Jantjies 2

Hurricanes: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Jayden Hayward, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore (c), 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Jacob Ellison, 18 Jason Eaton, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Chris Eaton, 21 Julian Savea, 22 Richard Buckman.

Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Dylan des Fountain, 13 Doppies la Grange (c), 12 Butch James, 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Joshua Strauss, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 David de Villiers, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Alwyn Hollenbach, 22 Michael Killian.

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