Hur­ri­canes wrap up in style with win over Blues

Taranaki Daily News - - Sport - MARC HINTON

Chris Boyd was a happy man as his Hur­ri­canes wrapped up their Su­per Rugby prepa­ra­tions with a qual­ity 26-14 vic­tory over the Blues in Wark­worth, north of Auck­land, yes­ter­day.

Dou­ble that when you fac­tor in that Boyd’s men came through a test­ing phys­i­cal work­out with no ma­jor in­juries, leav­ing the coach with some big de­ci­sions to make as he nar­rows down his 27 to start the long jour­ney to Pre­to­ria on Fri­day.

It didn’t look promis­ing when Canes prop Chris Eves was carted off on the stretcher in the sec­ond half, but Boyd re­ported at game’s end, af­ter his side kept the Blues score­less over the run home to over­turn a 14-12 half­time deficit, that the knock was just a stinger, and he was ex­pected to be fit to travel.

Boyd con­firmed star All Black Beau­den Bar­rett would jon the squad en route to South Africa (for the sea­son opener against the Bulls, fol­lowed by the Jaguares in Ar­gentina) but would not be con­sid­ered to start in Pre­to­ria.

‘‘We might use it as one of his All Black rest weeks yet, we haven’t de­cided on that,’’ he added.

The Blues did not es­cape quite so un­scathed af­ter put­ting in a promis­ing first 40, but then strug­gled for much in the way of con­ti­nu­ity and qual­ity af­ter half­time.

They lost three loose for­wards to in­jury in Jimmy Tupou, Jerome Kaino (both leg knocks) and Dal­ton Pa­pali’i, and coach Tana Umaga ad­mit­ted that was a con­cern head­ing to­wards their sea­son opener against the High­landers in Dunedin next Fri­day. He brought both Mur­phy Tara­mai and Akira Ioane off early as a pre­cau­tion, lest they be added to the toll.

The Blues will at least take some heart from the fact that af­ter the first 40 min­utes, when both sides had their strong­est line­ups on the field, they were able to eke out a 14-12 lead, even if it did take some­thing truly spec­tac­u­lar from su­per­star wing Rieko Ioane to achieve it.

The home side has been guilty of spurn­ing its gilt-edged op­por­tu­ni­ties early in the con­test and had fallen be­hind 12-7 when Hur­ri­canes half­back TJ Per­e­nara crossed from a short scrum af­ter eight min­utes and Matt Proc­tor had shown some nice speed and foot­work to fin­ish a break cre­ated by Eves and Sam Louisi just past the half-hour mark.

In be­tween those strikes Blues wing Matt Duffie had got his team on the board with a seven-poin­ter via a beau­ti­fully weighted chip­kick from his half­back, and skip­per, Au­gus­tine Pulu. Duffie’s ef­fort­less ex­plo­sion of speed to eas­ily win the chase was a cheer­ing sight for the hun­dreds of Blues fans who packed the ru­ral ground.

But what fol­lowed just be­fore the break had them pos­i­tively deliri­ous. Soon af­ter Blues full­back Mealni Nanai had butchered a cer­tain try when he couldn’t han­dle a pass on the bounce with the line open, Hur­ri­canes mid­fielder Ngani Laumape made an er­ror in judg­ment when he put in a cross­kick that was eas­ily fielded by Ioane.

The big All Black wing then took off up­field in a beau­ti­ful jink­ing run that saw him turn Laumape in­side out as he scram­bled back as the last line of de­fence.

Af­ter half­time the Canes struck twice early on, via a Jonah Lowe in­ter­cept and a nicely taken try from big Mur­ray Dou­glas (with an as­sist from Chase Ti­a­tia), to spring out to 26-14, be­fore things turned de­cided ugly, and the game broke down to a suc­ces­sion of er­rors and missed op­por­tu­ni­ties.

AN­THONY AU-YEUNG/GETTY IM­AGES

Blues wing Rieko Ioane scored a bril­liant try right on half­time in his team’s Su­per Rugby pre-sea­son game against the Hur­ri­canes in Wark­worth.

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