Barrett snatches win for Hurricanes
Sportal.co.nz 23 Mar 2012 Getty Images
The Blues were infuriating and exasperating as only they can be. They had resorted to basic forward power, driven by a dominant scrum, to provide for what would have been a deserved win.
Both camps were left with aspects of concern, the turnovers conceded by the Blues, especially in the first half, and the penalties given away by the Hurricanes for indiscipline in the second half.
The Blues looked to have sorted out their lineout woes. But the improvement lasted barely 20 minutes before it went AWOL again. However, the other set piece, the scrum demolished the Hurricanes pack where the inexperienced front row were given a working over by returning All Black Tony Woodcock, Charlie Faumuina and hooker Tom McCartney.
For every bit of frustration the lineout caused, the scrum offered plenty in compensation.
The Blues, who have been battling the lineout blues, turned it on during the early stages, winning every lineout, and taking ball from the Hurricanes on occasions. It was a 14th minute take and drive, just after the Hurricanes had been hammering the Blues line, that produced the first try of the game.
Flanker Chris Lowrey secured the take and set up the rolling maul with captain and flanker Daniel Braid took control as they moved toward the line. It was moved for first five-eighths Piri Weepu to take it to the line. Quick ball produced the chance for second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu to crash through against his old team beside the posts to score.
However, the satisfaction was short. The Blues kicked the re-start ball down the sideline where wing Julian Savea beat off his Blues rival David Raikuna far too easily. He then linked with fullback Andre Taylor who beat one tackle and then put his foot down to race to the line to score. The respective conversions by fullback Lachie Munro for the Blues and Barrett left the score at 10-7 for the home team after Munro had opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a penalty goal.
The early lineout control evaporated and the Blues paid the price when a turnover provided the chance for Taylor to kick deep into the Blues 22m area. Munro took the ball, and then tried to beat the following Taylor only to be caught and when the ball was released wing Cory Jane picked it up and scored wide out.
Then just on half-time, good work after the Hurricanes scrum disintegrated, firstly by halfback TJ Perenara in tidying the ball with a blindside run, and then a well-placed grubber kick from second five-eighths Tim Bateman, exposed Munro who was caught betwixt and between. That space was enough for centre Conrad Smith to grab the ball and race in for the try, which with the conversion gave the Hurricanes a 19-16 lead at the break.
Munro landed an equaliser after 45 minutes.
Perenara was superb for the Hurricanes. His kicking from the base of scrums and rucks was accurate, his speed on the follow-up was consistent while his passing was crisp. His assurance provided Barrett with an armchair ride in terms of the time he needed to control his backline. Their combination looks like gold for the side.
And in the loose flankers Faifili Levave and Jack Lam were fine lieutenants to No.8 Victor Vito. But if there was one player who gave them an edge it was Taylor from fullback where he was a constant menace with his speed on the break. The late introduction of substitute Brad Shields saw more turnovers come the Hurricanes way, but they couldn't get out of their own half until that fateful last minute.
Blues 25 (Ma'a Nonu try; Lachie Munro con, 6 pen) Hurricanes 26 (Andre Taylor, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith 2 tries; Beauden Barrett 3 con ). HT: 16-19
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