Canes pushed hard by Reds

The Southland Times - - Front Page - ❚ To­mor­row 4.10pm: Magic v Pulse at Claude­lands Arena, Hamil­ton. ❚ Mon­day 7.40pm: Steel v Mys­tics at ILT Sta­dium South­land, Invercargill. ❚ Wed­nes­day 7.40pm: Tac­tix v Stars at Horn­cas­tle Arena, Christchurch. Points (games played): Pulse 6 (3), Steel 4 (

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.

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