Canes pushed hard by Reds
Another week, another disappointment.
Yes the Hurricanes emerged from last night’s Super Rugby game against the Reds with a 38-34 victory, their 10th in succession this season. But it was yet another night when they didn’t come close to reaching the standards they expect of themselves.
It’s hard when you’re a good team and expectations are high. But there should be enough experienced players in this squad to cope with that stuff.
Like the Sunwolves and Lions, who they’ve met in their mostrecent matches at Westpac Stadium, the Reds weren’t going to register an upset. But they were definitely going to lift after last week’s thrashing by the Sunwolves and compete and just generally make themselves hard to beat.
Try as you might, if you’re the Hurricanes, it’s difficult to make yourself care against these kinds of opponents. To have your best week of preparation or to be at your absolute peak mentally.
And so we got what we got. When the Hurricanes’ passes stuck and they were on the job, then the points came in nice bunches of seven. Beauden Barrett, Ben Lam and Blade Thomson all scored firsthalf tries, converted by Barrett who kicked a penalty on the siren as well.
But in between times they were sloppy. They didn’t look after the ball, made poor reads in defence and weren’t as urgent as they could be. Four converted tries and a penalty ought to have been enough to build a handy lead upon; instead the Hurricanes were only 24-20 up at the break.
Prop Taniela Tupou and wing Filipo Daugunu were the Reds’ tryscorers, with the rest of the points coming via the boot of first five-eighth Jono Lance.
Not only were the Hurricanes not at the best, they were down on personnel too. Michael Fatialofa was a late scratching, due to a minor knee problem, and fellow lock Vaea Fifita soon joined him on the sidelines.
The All Black went down clutching a shoulder, which may yet have national implications. In the meantime, the rest of the Hurricanes needed to pull finger.
The second half featured longer periods of domination and accuracy, but the net result was largely the same. A good Lam try – his 14th of the season – was undone by the concession of a soft one to Reds wing Jordan Petaia.
Again, losing never looked on the cards but the Hurricanes were making hard work of winning.
Lock Sam Lousi scored a smart try, off a Chris Eves short ball, with 12 minutes to go and the interest then was in whether they’d go on and get a bonus point.
Instead they coughed up another ordinary try, this time to Samu Kerevi, and had to be content with merely winning.