Hur­ri­canes put Sharks to the Su­per Rugby sword

Fiji Sun - - Sport - Photo: Zim­bio Sun­day Star Times Feed­back: os­eab@fi­

The Hur­ri­canes re­ally are that good. It’s been tempt­ing to play down what Su­per Rugby’s top play­off qual­i­fiers have achieved in re­cent weeks. But you can’t do that any longer af­ter they thrashed the Sharks 41-0 to storm into the semi-fi­nals. Kick­ing low was the sen­si­ble op­tion, given the gale blow­ing at West­pac Sta­dium. The Hur­ri­canes were su­perb and earned the lux­ury of sub­sti­tut­ing most of their big guns, with 20 min­utes to play. The only damp­ener was an in­jury suf­fered by cap­tain Dane Coles. The con­di­tions were amaz­ing. We hear plenty about how much the wind swirls within West­pac Sta­dium and this was one of those rare oc­ca­sions when you could ac­tu­ally see. In the­ory, the wind was blow­ing down the ground. In prac­tice, the com­bi­na­tion of rain and flood­lights showed the gale was go­ing all over the place. It’s not of­ten rain goes up­wards, but this was one of those sit­u­a­tions that it ap­peared to. It meant some pas­sages of play be­came a lot­tery, as Sharks first fiveeighth Garth April would attest. His at­tempted three first-half shots at goal and couldn’t get the ball within a bull’s roar of the posts. Hur­ri­canes op­po­site Beau­den Bar­rett wasn’t hav­ing a lot more luck, kick­ing just one of his first three at­tempts. But he had the ball on an ab­so­lute string the rest of the time, as the home side took a 13-0 lead into half­time. Bar­rett has been in ex­tra­or­di­nary form for weeks and these crazy con­di­tions only un­der­lined how well he’s play­ing.

Af­ter he’d kicked an early penalty, to put the Hur­ri­canes 3-0 up, Bar­rett then un­furled a cross­kick that left wing Ja­son Wood­ward took ex­pertly. Af­ter beat­ing a tack­ler or two, Wood­ward un­loaded for Matt Proc­tor who was pulled down just short of the Sharks line. Prop Loni Uhila charged onto the ball from depth and over the try­line to ex­tend the lead to 8-0. Four min­utes later the Hur­ri­canes led 13-0, af­ter half­back TJ Per­e­nara put full­back James Mar­shall over to score from a five-metre scrum. The go­ing wasn’t easy and er­rors were plen­ti­ful. But, in the cir­cum­stances, Bar­rett and the Hur­ri­canes were put­ting on a rugby clinic.

Rain’s one thing, but when it’s com­bined with wind this fierce, it takes spe­cial play­ers to con­tinue ex­e­cut­ing their skills to a high level. Play­ers such as Per­e­nara who pro­duced two bits of magic to lay on tries for Wood­ward and lock Vaea Fi­fita. Bar­rett con­verted both and, af­ter 51 min­utes, the Hur­ri­canes sud­denly led 27-0. They were play­ing mag­nif­i­cent rugby, spoiled only by, what ap­peared to be, a rib in­jury suf­fered by Coles. He looked in acute dis­com­fort and it would. on that ev­i­dence at least, be a sur­prise if he played again in a hurry. That the Hur­ri­canes were able to im­me­di­ately re­spond with the Wood­ward and Fi­fita tries was a good sign and the warm feel­ing ex­tended to the crowd of 17,895, who gave wing Ju­lian Savea a big cheer when he came on for Cory Jane af­ter Fi­fita’s try.

Per­e­nara was next to score, af­ter a Uhila quick tap, to make it 34-0. State­ments rarely come more em­phatic than the one Per­e­nara and his team-mates made on a wild night at West­pac Sta­dium. Hur­ri­canes 41 (Loni Uhila, James Mar­shall, Ja­son Wood­ward, Vaea Fi­fita, TJ Per­e­nara, Brad Shields tries; Beau­den Bar­rett pen, 3 con, Ja­son Wood­ward con) Sharks 0. HT: 13-0. -

The Hur­ri­canes cel­e­brate James Mar­shall’s try at the West­pac Sta­dium, Welling­ton last night af­ter de­feat­ing the Sharks.

Hur­ri­canes fans brave the wet weather last night.

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