Hurricanes reveal heart in vital win
Just when they needed it, the Hurricanes produced a winning performance to head the Cheetahs 39-34 at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday morning (NZT).
In a hectic final quarter, the game yielded 39 points with the Cheetahs scoring two late tries to bolster their overall position by the end.
Home coach Naka Drotske had warned before the game that the Cheetahs would take the Hurricanes on up front but it was the visitors who produced their most physical effort of the season to upset the locals.
Backed by accurate kicking for field position they eventually allowed their backs to do the damage.
Barrett's try in the 51st minute was followed a minute later when wing Julian Savea put a kick ahead and took the ball to score.
In the 61st minute, solid build-up work by the forwards provided a chance for halfback TJ Perenara to reach out and get the ball over the line. His try was good relief after the Cheetahs looked like match the Hurricanes in scoring tries in quick succession.
After prop Coenie Oosthuizen had barged over in the 56th minute, the Cheetahs broke back downfield and were one pass from scoring when the ball was intercepted by Rey Lee-Lo.
He fed fullback Andre Taylor who raced 80 metres before being taken into touch. That set up the preparation for Perenara's try.
Then in the 68th minute the chance of victory was sealed when Jack Lam was able to knock ball ball during a Cheetahs attack. No.8 Victor Vito was on hand and charged 15m to break through the home defence. That took the Hurricanes to a 39-19 lead and while Oosthuizen and Robert Ebersohn crossed in the 72nd and 76th minutes, the Hurricanes were able to hold their lead.
The win moved the Hurricanes to 33 points and eighth place for the moment but in the New Zealand conference lifted them another victory clear of the Highlanders. The Cheetahs are still in second place on the South African ladder with 39 points.
Cheetahs 34 (Coonie Oosthuizen 2, Robert Ebersohn tries: Elgar Watts 2 con, pen' Burton Francis 4 pen) Hurricanes 39 (Beauden Barrett, Julian Savea, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito tries; Barrett 2 con, 5 pen). HT: 12-12