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Hurricanes rebound to deny Chiefs

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Lynn McConnell     20 Jul 2018     Getty Images

Buoyed by an outstanding display in the loose by flanker Gareth Evans, the Hurricanes reversed their loss to the Chiefs of last week by demonstrating their patience under fire to make the most of their chances which came within seven minutes in the final quarter.

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Halfback TJ Perenara scored two tries off the back of the efforts of his pack while second five-eighths Ngani Laumape was a powerhouse in midfield.

Although the final margin suggests it was closer than it was, it remained a disappointing end for the Chiefs stalwarts loose forward Liam Messam, and second five-eighths Charlie Ngatai, both of whom were key contributors for their side.

It needed something special to break the deadlock and it came in the 60th minute when centre Jordie Barrett made room in the midfield and took play into the 22m area where wing Julian Savea carried it forward. From the short-side ruck, Barrett was held up over the line.

But from the resulting scrum, Perenara wriggled his way through tackle attempts by marker Brad Weber and flanker Sam Cane for his second try of the game.

Then to ram home the point, the ball was returned to the Chiefs' 22m and a knock-on provided the chance for the Hurricanes to launch again, this time through Laumape. He set up the second phase ruck with Perenara firing a long pass to Jordie Barrett who gave wing Ben Lam the space to beat McKenzie's tackle to score.

The game had a sensational start, Savea making an intercept of a long pass attempted by McKenzie and clearing out on an 80m run to score his 49th try for the home team, inside the first minute. The Chiefs looked to move the ball from the restart but a long pass by Weber was again intercepted by Savea but so soon after his earlier run his legs couldn't get him over for his 50th.



However, a scrum penalty conceded in the Chiefs 22m area allowed them to work their way back downfield and when Ngatai found space inside he made ground which allowed the Chiefs to launch. McKenzie double-pumped his pass and hooker Nathan Harris held the ball long enough to give wing Shaun Stevenson room on the left and when he was blocked his inside pass allowed Weber to run around behind the posts.

After Ngatai attempted to run the ball out from the Chiefs line, from a lineout, he was held up by Laumape and Jordie Barrett, long enough to win a scrum for a maul being called by referee Glen Jackson. From the scrum Perenara took the defence on himself and got over, although it took a TMO decision that he didn't appear to have lost the ball before the grounding.

The Chiefs looked to effect an immediate response with McKenzie lobbing a kick across to Stevenson's wing just outside his 22m. The Hurricanes were caught out but Stevenson's attempt to link with centre Anton Lienert-Brown supporting outside him was weak, not looking when passing and the ball going to touch.

For all the intensity of the play, and there were some significant tackles put in, there was an error rate that was more than usual.

Into the second half, it took back spin on a Ngatai kick from his 22 to create a chance after flanker Lachlan Boshier took the ball and made good ground to set up a ruck from which quick ball saw flanker Sam Cane fling a long pass to centre Lienert-Brown to score with 29 minutes remaining.

They scored two tries late in the game, both of them representative of the style of play that had got them into the playoffs with McKenzie and Boshier crossing in the 78th and 82nd minutes respectively.

Scorers: Hurricanes 32 (Julian Savea, T.J. Perenara 2, Ben Lam tries; Beauden Barrett 2 con, 2 pen; Jordie Barrett con) Chiefs 31 (Brad Weber, Anton Lienert-Brown, Damian McKenzie, Lachlan Boshier tries; McKenzie 3 con, pen; Charlie Ngatai con). HT: 17-10