The Hurricanes recorded a crucial 17-11 win over the Highlanders in their Super Rugby Aotearoa Round Five match in Wellington on Sunday.
The Hurricanes outscored their opponents by three tries to one in in the match. However, there could have been more as both teams had a try disallowed in the first half.
After dominating play in the first few minutes, the Highlanders thought they were in when Mitch Hunt broke through the Hurricanes’ defence near halfway before feeding the ball to Aaron Smith who ran in for a score.
However, after a TMO review, it was deemed that there was some obstruction in the build-up.
A few minutes later, it was then the Hurricanes turn to have a try disallowed for obstruction after Ngani Laumape found an easy route to the tryline.
Surprisingly the first points of the game only came in the 28th minute when Hurricanes’ TJ Perenara fooled the Highlanders at a ruck in the visitors’ 22 before running easily to the tryline.
Jordie Barrett added the extra two points with the conversion.
The Highlanders got a chance to reduce the deficit to just four points in the 32nd minute, but flyhalf Hunt pushed his penalty kick wide.
Instead, it was the Hurricanes who added to their tally a few minutes later when Jordie Barrett broke through the Highlanders’ defence before sending a wide pass to Kobus Van Wyk who evaded a couple of defenders on his way to score his team’s second try.
Barrett was unable to convert the score.
At half-time, it was 12-0 to the Hurricanes.
There was some relentless pressure from the home side at the start of the second half and they were rewarded for it when Devan Flanders found his way to the tryline after several phases in the Highlanders’ 22.
The Highlanders finally got there first points of the game when Hunt converted a penalty into three points in the 51st minute.
Seven minutes later the visitors were back in the game when scrumhalf Aaron Smith had an easy route to the Hurricanes’ tryline after a driving maul deep inside the home team’s 22.
Hunt could not convert the score, but the deficit was reduced to nine points.
The Highlanders could only add another three points to their tally before full-time, but it was enough to secure them a bonus point.
Man of the match: Ngani Laumape and Devan Flanders both had strong performances in open play for the Hurricanes. However, the award goes to TJ Perenara who produced some key moments, which helped his team to victory.
Tries: Perenara, Van Wyk, Flanders
Pens: Hunt 2
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Devan Flanders, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Ben May.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Billy Proctor, 23 Wes Goosen.
Highlanders: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Scott Gregory, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Ayden Johnstone.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Jesse Parete, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Teariki Ben-Nicholas.
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant referees: James Doleman, Ben O’Keeffe
TMO: Mike Fraser