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Hurricanes survive Sunwolves scare

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Friday, April 19, 2019    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Although the Hurricanes were below par in an error-laden first half, credit must go to the Sunwolves who crossed for two brilliant tries and frustrated the Hurricanes on defence to take the handy half time lead. 

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The Hurricanes reduced their errors in the second half and took control at set piece time to shut the Sunwolves out and avoid blushes against the bottom placed team in the competition.

The Sunwolves raised eyebrows during the week by selecting usual loose forward Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco to mark Ngani Laumape at second five-eighth. While the combative Warren-Vosayaco was expected to match up to Laumape on defence, it was with ball in hand where he made his mark with a powerful midfield bust to set up prolific wing Semisi Masirewa for an early strike.

Moments later, dead-eye goal kicker Hayden Parker slotted a penalty to make it 10-0 to the home-side and the Hurricanes had barely touched the ball.

Looking a little rattled by the Sunwolves fast start and the packed crowd at Prince Chichibu Stadium, the Hurricanes needed some possession to settle into the contest. They got it when first five-eighth Fletcher Smith made a scything run from an aimless Sunwolves kick to put the Hurricanes on attack.

After a few steady phases, skipper TJ Perenara laid on a dummy and waltzed in for an easy try to put his team on the board.

While the points were much needed by the Hurricanes, the error count continued to mount and Hayden Parker made them pay with two more penalties to stretch the lead further.

Another loose Hurricanes carry saw the ball turned over and Parker was back in on the action with a cross kick into the arms of Masirewa for his double.

The Sunwolves led 23-7 after 27 minutes but were forced to defend stoutly for the remainder of the half as the Hurricanes poured the pressure on the line. Sunwolves sides of the past may have conceded multiple tries in a similar situation, but all the Hurricanes could add was a lone penalty to close the gap to 23-10 as the Sunwolves made their one-on-one tackles and scrambled well to frustrate the Hurricanes late in the half. 



The Hurricanes were guilty of loose ball carries and simple errors in the first half but came out with more direction and purpose in the second spell. They had the first points after the break when Ngani Laumape nudged through a perfectly weighted kick for Ben Lam to score in the corner.

In the first half, the Sunwolves managed to get out of their own half with ease but the Hurricanes applied more pressure in the second half and struck again when Chase Tiatia scored from a charge down.

The Hurricanes finally took the lead in the 67th minute through a brilliant individual effort by right wing Wes Goosen. Receiving the ball down the short-side, Goosen chipped the ball infield and won the race to the ball to hack forward again and score.

The lead was out to 29-23 with 12 minutes to play but it was hard to see how the Sunwolves would get back into the match with their set-piece failing and the Hurricanes defensive line operating well.

The Sunwolves threw plenty into the final 10 minutes but there was to be no addition to the score. The win takes the Hurricanes up to 27 points and provides a nice buffer over the Blues who sit in third place in the NZ conference on 20 points.

Next week, the Hurricanes face the Chiefs in what shapes as massive NZ derby with the Chiefs playing for their season.

Scorers:
Sunwolves 23 (Semisi Masirewa 2 tries, Hayden Parker 2 con, 3 pen) Hurricanes 29 (TJ Perenara, Ben Lam, Chase Tiatia, Wes Goosen tries, Fletcher Smith 3 con)
HT: 23-10