The Hurricanes produced an early second half blitz to down the Waratahs 41-29 in an open and entertaining Vodacom Super Rugby game in Wellington on Saturday.
Three tries in nine minutes in the second half ripped the game out of the Tahs hands and made it safe for the home side as both sides refused to give in.
Those three tries came at a crucial stage, with the home side leading 19-16 at the break and minutes later were 38-19 up with 25 minutes to play and showed that when things go the Hurricanes’ way, what a dangerous side they can be on attack.
With the teams even in the first half, the game was ripped open when Beauden Barritt took the ball in the 45th minute, moved it to Conrad Smith, who looped an audacious backflip to former Affies pupil Reggie Goodes, who tiptoed down the touchline 30 metres for an incredible score.
With the Canes growing in confidence it wasn’t long before Barritt stabbed through a short grubber on the Waratahs tryline a few minutes later, and this time it was the hard-working hooker Motu Matu’u that found the ball bouncing perfectly for him to pounce and score.
The Canes then grabbed a knocked ball, and sent it wide, with TJ Perenara kicking downfield and the bounce falling perfectly for Julian Savea, who first juggled the ball twice before holding on to go and score.
It was nine minutes that the Waratahs couldn’t afford, and nine minutes which would ultimately be costly for them as they never had the firepower to recover.
The visitors had started well, matching the Canes on the boot early on before Savea scored the first of his tries, coming off a Waratahs mistake as Adam Ashley-Cooper couldn’t hold an up and under, and the spilt ball was quickly despatched to the wings for the All Black winger to have an easy run-in.
Brendan McKibbon kept the Tahs in touch before Bernard Foley – one of the few Waratahs to stand out – scored an exceptional try, taking the ball up and sidestepping three defenders before pinning his ears back and running in without a hand being laid upon him.
While both sides were attacking, it was only their two kickers that troubled the scorers as they went into the break, but the Canes came out of it much more focused, and buoyed by an exceptional performance by Ardie Savea, who ruled the breakdown and won his personal battle with Michael Hooper.
The Waratahs did make a spirited comeback late in the game through a try by Ashley-Cooper, with Israel Folau giving them hope of a bonus point late on, but it was never enough to repair the damage done in those nine minutes.
Hurricanes – Tries: Julian Savea (2), Reg Goodes, Motu Matu'u. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (3). Penalties: Barrett (4).
Waratahs – Tries: Bernard Foley, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Israel Folau. Conversion: Brendan McKibbin. Penalties: McKibbin (4).