Hurricanes Rugby team escape a ‘Sharks bite’ by a whisker

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Hurricanes rugby team
NAPIER, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 06: Ihaia West of the Hurricanes kicks a conversion during the round eight Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Sharks at McLean Park on April 6, 2018 in Napier, New Zealand (Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)

The news from the Super Rugby clash at McLean Park in Napier, was how the 2016 champions wrenched a victory from the jaws of defeat. Ihaia West became the hero, as his last minute conversion kick saw the Hurricanes rugby team escape a ‘Sharks bite’ by a whisker.

In an thrilling encounter held in the regions of New Zealand, the Hurricanes Rugby team escaped defeat 38-37. Hawke’s Bay native son Ihaia West – brought in as a late replacement for Beauden Barrett – showed his composure to secure the narrow win in front of his home crowd. He converted the last gasp Ngani Laumape try, that had fans on their feet.

It would have been a disaster for the ‘Canes faithful who packed the well attended match, however the Sharks deserved the win after leading for long periods of the game.

The match highlights will show the scoring opportunities, yet the story of the game was of the teams making the most of their few chances. There was plenty of running, but tough defence by each side stopped plenty of attacking play. The Sharks would have felt like they had secured the win at 80 minutes, only to have the victory stolen in the 84th minute.

Hurricanes 38 – Tries: Ngani Laumape (2), Jordie Barrett, Vince Aso; Conversions: Ihaia West (3); Penalties: West (4)
Sharks 37 – Tries: Lukhanyo Am (2), Louis Scheuder, Tyler Paul; Cons: Robert du Preez (4); Pens: du Preez (3)

Scoring four tries each, the difference was in the kicks landed; and in such, the penalties conceded. Both teams were guilty. The Sharks gave away an unprecedented 16 penalties. In any game, if you allow the opposition to take advantage, then you will likely suffer. And the Sharks will rue those errors.

Ben Lam of the Hurricanes in action during the round eight Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Sharks at McLean Park on April 6, 2018 in Napier, New Zealand (Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)

It was a fantastic contest, not the one sided affair that some pundits had assumed. With the scoring power that the Hurricanes rugby team holds, such as leading scorer Ben Lam (above), the Sharks players like Tendai ‘the Beast’ Mtawarira held them up.

Hurricanes Rugby team escape a ‘Sharks bite’ by a whisker

Victory on the back of a comeback win is not familiar territory for the Hurricanes. The leading New Zealand team, they have become more recognized for searing attack. That was on show for moments, yet the handling issues and missed tackles [28] will displease head coach Chris Boyd.

Captain Brad Shields said after the match “that was bloody tough. Their a quality outfit, and you know we made it really hard on ourselves. The last six minutes, I’m really proud of the way we stayed composed, and stayed patient.

“We sort of had to ‘chase the game’ we left it a bit late. But a win at home (in Napier) and to win in that style, I think we learned a lot of lessons in that game,” was the skippers verdict.

Sport and drama at it’s very best.

Shields will be unhappy with the exit play, often handing the ball back to the Sharks. The opposition took their chances, and the ‘Canes will go back to their Wellington base and dissect the win–as much for the mistakes, as for the positives.

Final minute try ‘saves the day’ for Hurricanes rugby team

West was the ‘hero of the day’ as the 2016 Champions took victory from the Jaws of defeat, but they will also feel concerned with an injury to key player TJ Perenara. He succumbed to a knee injury late in the first half, with replacement Jamie Booth doing an admirable job in his place.

Missing Barrett and Ardie Savea, the ability to win without some of their key players was a compliment to the squad depth. West was solid, if unspectacular. Yet that is why an player like he; unwanted by the Blues, can succeed. If he achieves his ‘key performance indicators’ then more times than not, West will reach the standard that the Hurricanes rugby team desire.

Known for his clutch kicking, he achieved another last minute kick when the Hawke’s Bay beat Wellington 26-25, in the national provincial championship final. West told Fairfax media “Some of the Wellington boys were giving it to me after we scored. They said ‘well, you did it against us, you’ve got to do it now’.”

And he nailed it!

Sharks lead for majority of the Game

Holding a 27-19 halftime lead, the Sharks extended that to 37 points through their fourth try, and another du Preez penalty. It looked to their supporters that the traveling side would achieve an unthinkable result.

It was built on by an attacking mindset. Within the first 30 seconds of the match beginning, the Sharks were on the attack. A positive start, and the visitors dominated both possession and territory in the first 40 minutes, with 64 per cent of the ball. They can be commended for their attitude, but it did not last them for the entire 80 minutes.

The winning of the match, be it late in the game from the Hurricanes Rugby team, was the ability of the home side to control the ball. Something the Sharks did for long periods of the match, but denied the ball in the final five minutes, that was compounded by a late yellow card to Franco Marais.

When the Hurricanes took their 77th minute penalty, the visitors needed to get their hands on the ball. With 20 phases of attacking play, the ‘Canes entered the 22 meter area. Unfortunately, the replacement prop killed the ball and offered the hosts an attacking lineout. After an advantage period, an freekick was taken. That gave them territory and with that, an overlap on the outside for Laumape to score from. Fantastic play, and fantastic confidence from the home team.

After the demands of four away matches, with travel on top of that, the Sharks could not sustain their energy. And that ultimately cost victory….by a whisker.

It was a gallant effort, and after the match captain Ruan Botha told Skysports “hats off to the Hurricanes. They really stuck in right to the end and they got the victory.

“I’m disappointed, a few calls didn’t go our way. I’m just really proud of the boys, the guys stuck in to the very end, but the guys are just excited to get back to family, and get back home.”

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The Sharks return to their homes in South Africa, to face a tough local derby game v the Bulls. The Hurricanes have a week to repair, before their own derby game v the Chiefs at Westpac Stadium, Wellington.

 

“Main photo credit”
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2 COMMENTS

  1. ‘Stand out?’ Make no mistake: this game was won in pite of West, not because of his efforts… Poor decision making. Poor kicking. A huge drop-off after Beauden is certainly obvious here.

    • You certainly have some points. The writer did not indicate that West was an equal to – he said that West performed to his standards [quite far below the standard that Barrett has created in the ‘Canes] but credit must go to his completion of the scoring action. Team effort

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