Season takes toll on Canes
The Hurricanes have begun to resemble a marathon runner hitting the wall.
It’s all very well for Super Rugby’s rank and file teams to rouse themselves once a month. Being good week after week after week takes quite a bit more doing and the toll is starting to tell on the Hurricanes.
It’s not a question of ability or desire or preparation. It’s simply a reflection of how hard it is to consistently be at your mental peak.
The Hurricanes wanted to beat the Reds by plenty on Friday.
Instead they battled themselves, as much as the visitors, en route to an unsatisfying 38-34 victory that only yielded four competition points.
The mental fatigue was plain to see in tries scored by Reds wings Filipo Daugunu and Jordan Petaia.
‘‘The [Daugunu] try they scored from a set-piece; we’d defended that a dozen times [at training] during the week. We just got a connection wrong and missed a tackle. We knew exactly what was coming,’’ Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said.
For Petaia’s try, TJ Perenara made a bad decision and Taniela Tupou was away.
Again, it wasn’t a structural thing or a question of effort. The Hurricanes boast the competition’s best-performed defence. It was about making the right judgement.
‘‘I usually go for a tackle to take him out. I went for a passive tackle to try and chop him and a player like him, he’s explosive, he’s powerful and you’ve got to put a better body on him than that,’’ Perenara said.
There will be some who praise the Reds for what they did against the Hurricanes. That would be foolish.
If it takes a 63-28 loss to the Sunwolves to sting you into action, then you’re not much of a team. You’re certainly not entitled to any kind of prize.
‘‘This is what the competition can do. There’s a lot of sides that are up one week, down the next,’’ said Boyd.
The Hurricanes might be increasingly up and down themselves but they keep winning and that’s the important thing. Otherwise there’s not much you’d remember from the game, apart from an incident involving debutant Peter UmagaJensen.
Referee Ben O’Keeffe was set to sinbin the second five-eighth for a deliberate knockdown, until Television Match Official Glenn Newman and Perenara got in his ear.
In the end O’Keeffe ruled a knock-on against Umaga-Jensen, which was the wrong call.
Umaga-Jensen only knocked the ball on because Daugunu prevented him from catching it.
‘‘So therefore he [Daugunu] should’ve been penalised. A hundred per cent. At the end of the day he [O’Keeffe] had to make a [penalty] decision one way or another and he didn’t,’’ Boyd said.
None of which made Perenara’s protests to O’Keeffe any less amusing.
‘‘I thought we’d be hard done by if Pete goes to the bin there so, seeing Ben go to his pocket, I was just making him aware of what I saw,’’ said Perenara.
It will be interesting to see if the Hurricanes can now get themselves up to beat the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday.
Much of the responsibility for that will fall to the guys who are not on All Blacks duty on Auckland, while the fitness of injured trio Michael Fatialofa, Vaea Fifita and Matt Proctor will be a factor in that too.