Planet Rugby

'Canes make it four in a row

14th March 2008 10:32

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George Smith

Wrapped up: Brumbies skipper George Smith is caught in possession

The Hurricanes made it four Super 14 wins on the trot by beating the Brumbies 33-15 in an error-riddled encounter at Canberra Stadium on Friday.

In the process they equalled the Brumbies' biggest losing margin in Canberra of 18 points, stretching back to 1998 against the Sharks of South Africa.

The Hurricanes certainly lifted the intensity in the second half after a less convincing display in the opening 40 minutes ended with the half-time score reading 7-3 to the visitors.

Warm temperatures suggested an open, running encounter on a perfect evening in Canberra. But it was far from it in the first half as referee Willie Roos's whistle dominated proceedings.

The South African match official showed that he still doesn't quite grasp the implications of the ELVs, with the breakdowns a constant mess and his pedantic stop-start whistle blowing infuriating at times.

It was a messy opening stanza dominated by turnovers as both sides fiercely contested the breakdown area.

The Brumbies benefited from eight penalties or free-kicks in the opening 20 minutes but had a solitary penalty by Mark Gerrard, from three attempts, to show for it.

They were also kept scoreless by the Hurricanes during the ten-minute absence of centre Tamati Ellison, who was seeing yellow for a dubious high tackle on winger Francis Fainifo in the 12th minute.

The Hurricanes have an uncanny ability to score off counter-attacks from turn-over ball and did just that when Brumbies prop Nic Henderson was found wanting in the back-line.

Prop Jacob Ellison, in his Super 14 run-on debut, pinched the ball off Henderson and popped to Chris Masoe to start the attack.

The Hurricanes' backs took over and showed tremendous skill to keep the ball alive by weaving in and out of the tackles as they made their way towards the Brumbies' tryline.

Conrad Smith played a big part in what ended up as a Shannon Paku score nearly 60 metres downfield.

Jason Eaton, Jimmy Gopperth and Hosea Gear all played a part, until Smith cropped up again to lay on the final pass for his winger to score untouched for the Hurricanes' first - and only - converted try of the half.

The Hurricanes came out firing after the break and the Brumbies struggled to extinguish the flames once hooker Andrew Hore burrowed over from a ruck near the Brumbies' line.

Gopperth's conversion took the score to 14-3 after Brumbies' number eight Stephen Hoiles was sin-binned for back-chatting referee Roos.

The visitors looked like they were going to run away with it, instead the Brumbies replied back with a try to replacement forward Julian Salvi after fellow bench partner Josh Holmes had done all the hard work.

Gerrard's conversion struck the upright, but the Brumbies were back in the game with only six points separating the two teams.

Just as the home side were starting to mount another strong attack on the Hurricanes' line, the Brumbies midfield coughed up possession which allowed the visitors to dash the length of the field to score.

The 90-metre effort was sparked by Tane Tu'ipulotu who got the ball away to replacement scrum-half Alby Mathewson, the young number nine racing past one home defender after another before throwing a loose pass to Gear for a superb touchdown in the corner.

Five minutes later and the Hurricanes were over again, this time through Masoe after a quick-tap penalty from Collins led to his back row colleague muscling his way over to take the score further out of the Brumbies reach.

Masoe was in for his second following good interchange play with Scott Waldrom. The replacement loose forward twisted through two tackles before offloading brilliantly to Masoe on his way to the deck for another converted try by Gopperth.

A simple consolation try to Brumbies centre Tyrone Smith - his first for the Australian franchise - in the 77th minute gave the scoreline some respect.

But the damage was done and the Hurricanes can go into their bye next weekend in a good frame of mind knowing they are one step closer to reaching a place in the play-offs.

Man of the match: There was a distinct return to form for the Hurricanes loose trio: openside Chris Masoe grabbing two tries in a busy night's work, Jerry Collins producing one of those trademark high work-rate efforts, and Rodney So'oialo weighing in with his own contributions. But our vote goes to centre Conrad Smith who was a busy bee on attack and defence. Although he didn't cross the whitewash for his team, he certainly had a hand in making tries.

Moment of the match: The Hurricanes were back at their exhilarating counter-attacking best, Hosea Gear's try in the second half proved just that.

Villain of the match: Yellow cards to Tamati Ellison and Stephen Hoiles were a low point for both sides for their respective ten minutes on the sideline. But the performance of referee Willie Roos with the whistle was a low point for the entire match.

The scorers

For Brumbies:

Tries: Salvi, T Smith

Con: Gerrard

Pen: Gerrard

For Hurricanes:

Tries: Paku, Hore, Gear, Masoe 2

Cons: Gopperth 3, Ripia

Yellow cards: Ellison (Hurricanes) - dangerous tackle, 12; Hoiles (Brumbies) - verbal abuse, 55.

Brumbies: 15 Mark Gerrard, 14 Peter Playford, 13 Sanualio Afeaki, 12 Tyrone Smith, 11 Francis Fainifo, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Patrick Phibbs, 8 Stephen Hoiles, 7 George Smith (c), 6 Mitchell Chapman, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Nic Henderson.

Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Peter Kimlin, 19 Julian Salvi, 20 Joshua Holmes, 21 Matt Toomua, 22 Tim Wright.

Hurricanes: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Shannon Paku, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Tamati Ellison, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Rodney So'oialo (c), 7 Chris Masoe, 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Jacob Ellison.

Replacements: 16 Hikawera Elliot, 17 Tim Fairbrother, 18 Jeremy Thrush, 19 Scott Waldrom, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Willie Ripia, 22 Tane Tu'ipulotu.

Referee: Willie Roos (South Africa)

Touch judges: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Ian Smith (Australia)

Television match official: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)

Assessor: Gus Erickson (Australia)

By Dave Morris

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