37 vs 27
The Hurricanes fought back from a seven-point half-time deficit to claim a 37-27 victory over the Blues in Wellington on Saturday.
In yet another superb advert for New Zealand rugby, both sides stayed true to their attacking roots, running the ball from all areas of the field.
The result means the Hurricanes moved into second place in the New Zealand Conference standings, above the Crusaders who lost against the Chiefs in Suva on Friday
The Blues, meanwhile, are still at the bottom on the New Zealand Conference and look set for another season without play-off rugby.
The opening half was a thrilling affair with both sides attacking at every opportunity, and after Beauden Barrett and Piers Francis traded early penalties, it was the Blues who drew first blood via a Kara Pryor try in the 12th minute.
That came after Male S’au set him up with a strong run in the build-up, in which he showed great strength in shrugging off the attentions of Vaea Fifita before getting a pass out to the on-rushing Pryor, who outpaced the cover defence before diving over.
The Hurricanes didn’t take long to reply, and five minutes later Reg Goodes burrowed his way over the whitewash from close quarters for his side’s opening try.
The home side replied with the first of two tries from Jerome Kaino. The All Blacks enforcer displaying great determination as he powered his way through a Barrett tackle close to the Hurricanes’ try-line.
Two minutes later, an Ihaia West fumble inside his 22 was pounced on by Dane Coles, who kicked the ball ahead before diving on it and Barrett’s conversion meant the sides were level at 17-17 by the 20th minute.
Kaino then showed great pace as he burst through a ruck and set off on a 25-metre run before crossing for a deserved try. Piers Francis slotted the conversion which meant the visitors led 24-17 at half-time.
Francis extended his side’s lead with a three-pointer from the kicking tee, three minutes after the restart, but Barrett narrowed the gap with two penalties of his own which meant the deficit was reduced to four points by the 50-minute mark.
Shortly afterwards, the hosts regained the lead when Vaea Fifita crossed over after Coles, Victor Vito and Vince Aso were prominent in the build-up.
The next 15 minutes saw both sides giving their all in a bid to secure the result.
It was the Hurricanes who managed to do that however when Fifita breached the visitors’ defence in the 70th minute with a strong run, before going over for his second try which secured a crucial victory for his side.
Tries: Goodes, Coles, Fifita 2
Cons: Barrett 4
Pens: Barrett 3
Tries: Pryor, Kaino 2
Cons: Francis 3
Pens: Francis 3
Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Vince Aso, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (c), 1 Reggie Goodes
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Tony Lambourn, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Willis Halaholo, 23 Jason Woodward
Blues: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Male S’au, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Kara Pryor, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Sam Prattley
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Namatahi Waa, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti/Hoani Matenga, 20 Blake Gibson, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Matt McGahan, 23 Matt Vaega/Lolagi Visinia
Date: Saturday, July 2
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)