Planet Rugby

Hurricanes breeze into semi-finals

16th May 2009 10:34

Share:

Nonu v Reds 2009

Double strike: Ma'a Nonu

Ma'a Nonu contributed two touch-downs in a four-try first half blitz to pave the Hurricanes way into the Super 14 semi-finals with a 37-28 win over the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday.

There will be no Australian team in the semi-finals in 2009 as the 'Canes win in Brisbane bumps the Waratahs out of the top four.

The Hurricanes never looked like losing. Five tries and the bonus point moves them into provisional second place in the standings, meaning the Bulls will need at least two points against the Sharks later in the day to secure a home-semi final.

The New Zealand team were deserved victors and dominated every facet of play.

The visitors were first on the score board after just six minutes when Nonu sailed over to round off a eight-phase build up. At pace and with space to work with, Nonu was never going to be stopped by Berrick Barnes.

The 'Canes scored their second try inside the ten-minute mark with a team effort that lasted all of 60m. Rodney So'oialo and Victor Vito were amongst those who showed off some super handling before Nonu provided the final pass for Piri Weepu. The scrum-half's victory dance raised a few eyebrows and must have disturbed Willie Ripia, who missed an easy conversion.

Nonu was again in the mix ten minutes later, touching down his second try, another long-range effort from the visitors. Vito was having a stormer and played his part in a move that started inside the 'Canes half. It was Nonu's eighth of the season, putting him top of the tournament's try-scorers list.

The Reds had yet to look dangerous and it came almost as a surprise when Quade Cooper pulled a try back. The Wallaby produced a moment of magic to step, twist and twirl his way past five 'Canes defenders in hardly any space to somehow sneak over. Barnes provided a pearl of a conversion to make the scores 7-17.

The 'Canes struck right back though, as Cory Jane scored the bonus-point try. With the likes of Jason Eaton and John Schwalger smashing the ball up on the other end of the field, it was easy for Nonu to put Jane into acres of space as the full-back sliced through the Reds stretched defence to dive over untouched.

Credit must be given to the Reds who fought on. Ben Lucas dived head first into the centre of a ruck to somehow find a inch of grass to touch the ball down on to score the home side's second try just before the break.

With the scores at 14-24, optimistic home fans held onto a glimmer of hope when the teams swapped ends, but the 'Canes would extend the lead shortly after running back onto the field.

Jeremy Thrush rounded off another period of classic phase play before Ripia landed the conversion to restore the seventeen-point gap.

The Reds would dominate the next ten minutes, and despite some ferocious defending form the visitors, eventually cracked the grey curtain as Mark McLinden hit the line at pace to run in.

With five tries in the bag already the Hurricanes went into their shells and kept it tight. Two long-range penalties from Ripia were enough to extend the lead to sixteen points.

A Brando Va'aulu intercept try from 70m with eight minutes to play added some spice to the closing stages.

But the Hurricanes showed they can defend as well as they can attack, booking a place in the play-offs to relative ease.

Man of the match: Nonu is an obvious candidate and Piri Weepu was top-class too. But Sevens star Victor Vito gets our nod. He had a relatively quiet second half but his first forty minutes were simply brilliant - there are a lot of flanks out there who wish they had his hands.

The Scorers

For the Reds:

Tries: Cooper, Lucas, McLinden, Va'aulu

Cons: Barnes 4

For the Hurricanes:

Tries: Nonu 2, Weepu, Jane, Thrush

Cons: Ripia 3

Pens:Ripia 2

Reds: 15 Mark McLinden, 14 Brando Va'aulu, 13 Charlie Fetoai, 12 Quade Cooper, 11 Rod Davies, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Ben Lucas, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Poutasi Luafutu/Andrew Shaw, 6 Ezra Taylor, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Van Humphries, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Sean Hardman, 1 Ben Daley.

Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Adam Byrnes, 19 Scott Higginbotham, 20 Richard Kingi, 21 Anthony Faingaa, 22 Anthony Sauer.

Hurricanes: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Tamati Ellison, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 David Smith, 10 Willie Ripia, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Rodney So'oialo (c), 7 Scott Waldrom, 6 Victor Vito, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 John Schwalger.

Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Jacob Ellison, 18 Bryn Evans, 19 Karl Lowe, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Jason Kawau, 22 Zac Guildford.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)

Touch judges: Paul Marks (Australia), Sindile Mayende (South Africa)

TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester vs ExeterGloucester vs Exeter Preview
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London WelshSale vs London Welsh Preview
London Irish vs SaracensLondon Irish vs Saracens Preview
Harlequins vs WaspsHarlequins vs Wasps Preview
Bath vs LeicesterBath vs Leicester Preview
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs NorthamptonNewcastle vs Northampton Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Munster vs ZebreMunster vs Zebre Preview
Cardiff Blues vs UlsterCardiff Blues vs Ulster Preview
Connacht vs LeinsterConnacht vs Leinster Preview
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs GlasgowNewport Gwent D
Scarlets vs Benetton TrevisoScarlets vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs EdinburghOspreys vs Edinburgh Preview
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs ToulonBrive vs Toulon Preview
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse14:45
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Oyonnax18:30
Clermont Auvergne vs LyonClermont Auvergne vs Lyon Preview
Montpellier vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 19
Lions vs PumasLions vs Pumas Preview
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs SharksBlue Bulls vs Sharks Preview
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , September 20
Hawkes Bay vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs North HarbourAuckland vs North Harbour Preview
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Friday , September 19
Counties Manukau 20 - 28 CanterburyCounties Manukau vs Canterbury Report
Thursday , September 18
Northland 20 - 31 TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Report
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
Southland 36 - 34 Northland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26