Hurricanes battle past Brumbies to semifinals

Toiroa Tahuriorangi of the Hurricanes makes a line break. Photo: Getty
Toiroa Tahuriorangi of the Hurricanes makes a line break. Photo: Getty

On a chilly night in Canberra, the Hurricanes felt the early heat from the Brumbies, but pulled away in a strong second stanza winning 35-16.

They worked hard to haul themselves back in the contest, edge to the lead and then finish all over the Brumbies to book their semifinal berth, most likely in Johannesburg. It was bruising, real Super Rugby playoffs intensity.

The Brumbies have not always played with that intensity this season, while the Hurricanes have tended to come second best when the going gets really tough, namely against the Chiefs, twice, and the Crusaders. There was a lot of kicking by both sides, and it was often aimless.

Dane Coles entered the fray towards the end of the first half for a Ricky Riccitelli head-bin and then went fulltime from the 50 minute mark. He did his core tasks well and will be the better for it. But he showed his allround skill with a bust and then in-pass for TJ Perenara for the Hurricanes to break the shackles in the second half.

This quarter-final did not exactly go to script. It was supposed to go something like this: the Brumbies would hold the Hurricanes for the first quarter until the floodgates burst open and the team that averages six tries a game for 2017 would crank up the firepower with their X-factor men to blow away the limited Brumbies.

Not exactly. But the first spell was remarkable in many ways.

The Hurricanes continued their slow starting ways, fluffing the kickoff. They then had to defend for nigh on 20 minutes as the Brumbies hogged the ball and were bruising without it.

Jordie Barrett, at centre again, even kicked three penalty goals. His team have only had 16 attempts in 16 games in 2017.

The Brumbies forwards set a dominant early scrum, and drove well from the lineout, which yielded a try to hooker Josh Mann-Rea and a sweet early score to wing James Dargaville.

The Hurricanes' riposte was unconventional, bizarre even. Riccitelli fired a long lineout ball from which wing Wes Goosen latched into, stepped thrice off his left foot and dotted down. He added another late on.

You would not see a try like the one Jordie Barrett scored if you watched rugby non-stop for a year. Ben May copped a falcon running a decoy, the ball ballooned forward off his scone and a quick-thinking Barrett followed up for the score. That rule needs to be revisited, but the Hurricanes were relieved, especially when prop Jeff Toomaga-Allen was sinbinned for a high tackle.

There was more intent to the second half Hurricanes, more accuracy and pick and gos.
Ardie Savea was Mr Perpetual Motion for the Hurricanes. He was not flashy, but he was effective. Nehe Milner-Skudder is trying his socks off, but there was little space for him at the back and he was examined under the high ball. Perenara was busier than anyone and central to the Hurricanes' fortunes.

Brumbies' utility back Christian Lealiifano returned from beating leukaemia to play the full second spell.

The Hurricanes will now decamp to Sydney to wait on the Lions-Sharks result.

RESULTS:

Hurricanes 35 (Wes Goosen 2, Jordie Barrett, TJ Perenara tries; J. Barrett 3 con, 3 pen)
Brumbies 16 (James Dargaville, Josh Mann-Rea tries; Wharenui Hawera 2 pen)
HT: 16-15 Brumbies

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