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Hurricanes edge Blues at the death

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Lynn McConnell     15 Apr 2017     Getty Images

Amid all the other happenings on an astonishing night of rugby, World Rugby's player of the year Barrett provided a stunning demonstration of his class, running onto the ball at speed to waft through gaps, while doing the five-eighths' basic role of finding ground behind the opposition defence, to push the Blues back several times with effect.

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However, his propensity to commit professional fouls caught up with him again when he was sin-binned for once again tapping ball down. However, two wafting runs in the latter stages, when the Blues had claimed the lead for the first time, set up the chance which lock Mark Abbott took, darting around the blindside of a ruck like a halfback for his second try of the night and to claim the win.

But it was only after some fearsome, and fearless, Blues tackling during the earlier stages of the movement.

If Barrett demonstrated his skills, his younger brother Jordie provided solidity and sustenance from fullback against a Blues side inspired by the efforts offlanker Jerome Kaino and No.8 Steven Luatua, who produced compelling performances with the ball in hand for the home side. And that was in the face of intense effort from Hurricanes loosies Callum Gibbins and Ardie Savea.

Second five-eighths Sonny Bill Williams had a mixed night, committing an unnecessary charge on Jordie Barrett and missing a key tackle in Laumape's try but also producing some key breaks with ball in hand.

Replacement Blues first five-eighths Bryn Gatland made his mark moments after taking the field with a 23rd minute penalty goal, and then 10 minutes later when successive penalties were won by the Blues, he landed a second touch kick just out from the Hurricanes line. 

From the lineout, the opportunity was not lost on the home pack and they drove at the line before moving it outside and from a series of pick-and-goes it was lock Scott Scrafton who scored to claim the lead for the home team for the first time in the game.

Sadly, it wasn't enough to hold out the faster finishing Hurricanes.



The night, in front of a crowd of 24,208, didn't start well for the Blues. From the receipt of the starting kick-off, they worked the ball around and then in the process of attempting to clear downfield, first five-eighths Piers Francis had his kick charged down. The Hurricanes immediately built on that, won a midfield penalty from which they set a scrum, and after working the ball to the left it was Abbott who went over from the pick-and-go.

But the Blues won a turnover, one among several during the first half, from the restart which saw halfback Augustine Pulu flick the ball to left wing Melani Nanai, who made good ground along the sideline, beating his marker and feeding the supporting Pulu in for the try in the fifth minute.

Well won turnover ball was squandered after a sniping break by Pulu but Francis, in open space, was unable to hold the pass. From the scrum, Beauden Barrett took a superb gap, put his foot down and feinted a pass outside before swinging the ball back infield where second five-eighths Ngani Laumape was able to beat two poor tackle attempts to score.

But again, the Blues moved ball from the re-start and when Pulu found Luatua with a long pass, he ran onto the speed to break free and when it seemed he would lack support left wing Nanai appeared on the right to score.

It seemed in the 27th minute the Blues had finally built a good position when getting a lineout feed just out from the Hurricanes' 22m line. They brought all their backs up in a clearly-planned move, but in the execution of the lineout and resulting transition of the ball, it dropped to the ground.

Beauden Barrett was onto it in a flash, toeing the ball ahead, getting the bounce and racing 50-odd metres to score.

From the re-start Williams raced into the Hurricanes defence to beat Barrett but was unable to get the pass away. The Blues kept building however, and Barrett achieved his third sin-binning for knocking ball down within the week.

The Blues tried, with one storming run from flanker Jerome Kaino who was dragged down in desperation by Hurricanes flanker Ardie Savea, to take advantage but were unable to score.

Scorers: Blues 24 (Augustine Pulu, Melani Nanai, Scott Scrafton tries; Piers Francis 2 con; Bryn Gatland con, pen) Hurricanes 28 (Mark Abbott 2, Ngani Laumape, Beauden Barrett tries; Jordie Barrett 4 con). HT: 14-21