Hurricanes blow away Reds
Sportal.co.nz 07 May 2010 Getty Images
Down 8-21 at one stage, and seemingly powerless to contain the effervescent Reds, the Hurricanes soaked up the pressure and unleashed their own scoring tidal wave just after the halftime break with wing Hosea Gear confirming his outstanding form of recent weeks with a hat-trick of tries.
Halfback Piri Weepu provided solidity both in tactical choice and in goal-kicking, where he kicked 14 points, to ensure the Reds were forced to play catch up in the final quarter without regaining the control they had shown in the first half.
It was a fitting reward for No.8 Rodney So'oialo who was making his 100th appearance for the side who also sealed the win with scrum control to set up the final try of the game, a blindside effort to replacement wing David Smith.
The Reds paid dearly when flanker Andrew Shaw was in the sin-bin just after halftime and conceded 14 points in his absence to lose their impetus and shape.
The Hurricanes camped in the 22m area and after penalties and scrums the try eventually came from a Reds mistake when centre Will Chambers was tackled in front of the posts and the ball rebounded forward off halfback Will Genia and it was cleared to the sideline.
Wing Hosea Gear, whose form in recent weeks has been electrifying, crossed to touch the ball down a milli-second before hitting the corner flag. It was his second try, the first coming after the halftime hooter.
Then another mistake resulted in an intercept for flanker Michael Paterson which allowed more magic from fullback Cory Jane whose backhand flip to centre Jason Kawau freed up wing Tamati Ellison on the right and he raced in when easily beating the tackle of second five-eighths Anthony Faingaa.
Halfback Piri Weepu's second conversion within a few minutes saw the home team out to a 27-21 lead after 51 minutes.
The pressure was then put on the Reds when Gear completed his hat-trick, courtesy of Nonu going into a gap and feeding first five-eighths Aaron Cruden who had doubled around to link with Gear to set him on his way for the corner.
Midway through the first half it had seemed the Reds were set to run riot after a virtuoso display by first five-eighths Quade Cooper was every bit the playmaker his earlier form this season had suggested and he orchestrated a superb demonstration of why the Reds have been such an impressive combination this year.
As expected both teams started at breakneck pace but it was finally slowed when Hurricanes prop Neemia Tialata was penalised for a high tackle on Genia. However, Cooper was unable to judge the northerly breeze to good effect and the penalty attempt missed.
Early handling errors cost the home team, the first after So'oialo was fed into a gap by second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu and charged ahead only for hooker Andrew Hore to knock the ball on as he attempted to pick it up.
Jane scored the opening try, after 11 minutes,when using the blindside to great effect. From a ruck in the Reds' 22m area, created when Cruden took on the line, the ball emerged for wing Tamati Ellison to place a flat pass across to Hosea Gear.
He took the tackle along the sideline and in-passed to Jane who was in support.
A turnover by prop Jacob Ellison draw a penalty from the Reds and Weepu took a superb gap from the lineout to set up another attack which resulted in a defensive penalty by the Reds and Weepu landed the penalty goal in the 16th minute.
A minute later Genia ran from a midfield ruck and unzipped a huge hole then passed back inside to supporting flanker Scott Higginbotham who scored for Cooper to add the conversion.
A Nonu high shot on Cooper resulted in a lineout advantage which saw second five-eighths Anthony Faingaa slip an inside pass to flying wing Rod Davies and he cut back on the angle to go in untouched under the posts for Cooper to add the extras.
Two minutes later Chambers benefited from a break by Faingaa from a midfield scrum. He found Cooper this time and he kicked into the in-goal area for the big centre to win the race and give his side a 21-8 lead after 28 minutes. But the Reds suffered a blow moments later when Davies was forced from the field with a hamstring injury.
Replacement lock Radike Samo had a superb game before being subbed after 60 minutes in which he was a physical presence all over the ground while wing Digby Ioane was a perpetual motion machine looking for opportunities throughout.
Hurricanes 44 (Cory Jane, Hosea Gear 3, Tamati Ellison, David Smith tries; Piri Weepu 4 con, 3 pen) Reds 21 (Scott Higginbotham, Rod Davies, Will Chambers tries; Quade Cooper 3 con). HT: 13-21
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