Per­e­nara thank­ful for his mates

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - HAMISH BIDWELL

The be­gin­nings were hardly aus­pi­cious.

Twelve-nil down within a blink of an eye and their scrum be­ing de­mol­ished and/or pe­nalised at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals, the Hur­ri­canes looked cer­tain to lose to the Cru­saders on Satur­day night. The only ques­tion was by how many.

‘‘I thought we were just poor in the first 20, we didn’t show a lot of heart, es­pe­cially in de­fence,’’ cap­tain TJ Per­e­nara said af­ter the team some­how turned around and won 31-22.

‘‘They got two op­por­tu­ni­ties early and scored twice fairly eas­ily and we were pretty dis­ap­pointed un­der the posts with that. We un­der­stand in a game of footy that you might leak points, but the way we did that in that first 20 min­utes was not the way we would choose to play our footy.’’

What hap­pened next should en­cour­age Hur­ri­canes fans im­mensely. No-one gave a big rev up, there wasn’t an in­di­vid­ual who did some­thing freak­ish to pa­per over the cracks, the Cru­saders didn’t sud­denly go off the boil.

No, the Hur­ri­canes got back into the game be­cause a core group lifted them­selves to the level that the Cru­saders were play­ing at.

‘‘You saw the likes of Ardie [Savea], Brad [Shields], Ricky [Ric­citelli], even guys like Ngani [Laumape] and Jordie [Bar­rett] stepped up in the mid­field and showed some real heart and de­ter­mi­na­tion to make sure we had pride in our de­fence. The boys feed off that en­ergy. When peo­ple get up and they’re mak­ing plays it’s in­fec­tious and I think those boys led re­ally well for us,’’ said Per­e­nara

Shields’ con­tri­bu­tion was par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant. Per­e­nara’s not the type to back down from any­one; ref­eree’s in­cluded. That’s where Shields recog­nised it was time for him to be the buf­fer be­tween the Hur­ri­canes and ref­eree Glen Jackson.

‘‘I got a lit­tle bit frus­trated in that game and [Shields] just came over to me and said that he’d take the reins for a bit and when you’ve got peo­ple around you that are will­ing to step up in big mo­ments it makes your job a lot eas­ier,’’ Per­e­nara said.

A con­verted try to Bar­rett had the Hur­ri­canes just 12-7 down at half­time. All the same it still seemed as if the Cru­saders would kick on and win.

But sec­ond half tries to wings Ju­lian Savea and Wes Goosen, along with flanker Vaea Fi­fita, kept the Hur­ri­canes in touch. Bar­rett con­verted the lot from wide out and kicked a penalty, hav­ing been drafted in to play cen­tre for the first time in Su­per Rugby when Vince Aso tweaked an ex­ist­ing groin in­jury in the warm-up.

Per­e­nara, 25, first played for Welling­ton as a school boy and made his Hur­ri­canes de­but aged just 20, so he knows a lit­tle bit about play­ing on a big stage at a ten­der age. But, like many, Per­e­nara looks at the 20-year-old Bar­rett and mar­vels at his com­po­sure.

‘‘I’m con­tin­u­ally im­pressed with that kid. You wouldn’t think it was his first sea­son of Su­per Rugby, you wouldn’t think he was 19, 20-years-old.

‘‘I’ve played a lot with his brother [Beau­den] and I see a lot of those same char­ac­ter­is­tics out of those two men. They step onto a footy field and not much fazes them, re­gard­less of what the mo­ment is, re­gard­less of what the score is.

HAGEN HOPKINS/ GETTY IMAGES

Vaea Fi­fita of the Hur­ri­canes scores dur­ing the round 17 Su­per Rugby match be­tween the Hur­ri­canes and the Cru­saders.

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