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Hurricanes end 21 years of Super Rugby pain

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Lynn McConnell     06 Aug 2016     Getty Images

The Hurricanes became the last of the New Zealand franchises to secure the title having been twice been beaten in finals.

QUICK TAP: BARRETT v JANTJIES - BATTLE OF THE TENS

It was a dominating performance in tricky conditions just as it has been in the latter weeks of the competition and his man of the match effort strengthened Barrett's right to be considered the No.1 first five-eighths in New Zealand at the moment.

His try 14 minutes from the end of the game provided a two-try cushion that was never going to be reversed on a team that had not conceded try in their play-offs games, a total of 301 minutes when the last half of their final round-robin game was included.

Barrett was taken out, in the air, by Lions No.8 and captain Warren Whiteley when fielding a kick near halfway. From the resulting penalty, Barrett pinned the Lions in their own half for a lineout.

While the Lions stole the Hurricanes lineout, the ball was poorly controlled. It deflected off a Lions boot, was touched on by replacement hooker Ricci Riccitelli, and, out of nowhere, Barrett shot through to beat Elton Jantjies to the touchdown and with his conversion the home team had a 20-3 lead.
A gutsy display by skipper and hooker Dane Coles who survived 43 minutes before yielding to his rib cartilage injury, saw him come back on for four or five minutes while Riccitelli needed to have a bloody nose attended to.

But more than anything it was a victory built on the Hurricanes' defence that told the story of the game . The conditions proved too much for the visitors to counter and while having a good share of possession they were unable to find a way through.

It was a fitting departure present for two stalwarts of the side, No.8 Victor Vito who could savour a 100th game with special meaning, and fullback James Marshall.

New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey said: "Congratulations Hurricanes on claiming your first Super Rugby title. Your victory tonight is well deserved after an exceptional season. Commiserations to the Lions and thanks for making tonight such a great game.

"Finally, thanks to the fans who packed Westpac Stadium tonight and all those kiwi fans who supported their teams this year. It was a great championship capped off by a committed performance from the home team."

Barrett was controlled from the outset. His first genuine touch saw a potential try in the sixth minute. The Lions conceded a lineout in their own 22m area, a lineout created from a fine tactical kick by Barrett. After several pick and goes the ball was released for Barrett to kick to the right corner where wing Cory Jane took the ball, and beat two defenders to touch down.

But in checking the pick and goes the TMO found flanker Brad Shields had knocked the ball on and the try was over-ruled.

Hurricanes defensive pressure paid dividends 21 minutes into the game as twice the Lions backs were caught behind the advantage line which resulted in some rattled decision-making. In the final instance Jantjies instead of clearing the ball himself, spun the ball to centre Lionel Mapoe.



His attempt to kick the ball low into the wind was a point blank shot which was somehow gathered and held by Jane who made no mistake the second time around and raced over to score. The effort was made more rewarding with a fine sideline conversion in the conditions by Barrett.

Jantjies was able to convert a penalty goal chance 25 minutes into the game and while the Lions got into positions to put the pressure on the Hurricanes it was the home team who coped better with sterling defence and one outstanding scrum.

Instead of taking another penalty goal chance, the Lions looked to a scrum where the Hurricanes had shown some diffidence to apply more pressure. But an eight-man shove rocked the Lions who conceded a penalty which allowed the Hurricanes to ease their way to half-time.

In getting into potential scoring situations, the Lions looked to muscle their way forwards. Early on they tried through some hard running from second five-eighths Janse van Rensburg but the over-use of that tactic had the Hurricanes waiting for him.

Then with lock Andries Ferreira going to ground before making sufficient ground there was a slowing of momentum that couldn't compensate for muddled thinking under pressure by Jantjies as he tried to move the ball off a flat-footed base.

Ultimately, the Lions, who had an outstanding season could only put the performance in the experience pocket as it was their first final.

Scorers: Hurricanes 20 (Cory Jane, Beauden Barrett tries; Beauden Barrett 2 con, 2 pen) Lions 3 (Elton Jantjies pen ). HT: 10-3