The Hurricanes have put on a second half master class in the second half to run away with a 36-12 bonus point win against the Melbourne Rebels.
The first half was a mixed affair with no side dominating the game. The Rebels preferred to keep ball in hand and work up the field with one-off runs, but made limited ground. The Hurricanes provided solid defense and looked more threatening with limited possession.
The Hurricanes exploited some poor outside defense when they raided out wide and TJ Perenara scored after the inside pass. On the flip side, poor breakdown discipline from the Hurricane forwards saw Mike Harris slot four penalties.
At the break the Rebels held a narrow 12-10 lead and for a second I let myself believe the Rebels may have had a chance.
At the start of the second half I was full of optimism; it only took four minutes for that to evaporate. The Rebels started the half with the same one-up attack and pedestrian link play, but handling errors saw a quick counter attack and the Hurricanes move in the Rebels 22.
It wasn’t long before the ball went out wide and found Cory Jane for a nice try. The score blew out to 24-12 when another counter attack after poor Rebels handling saw Callum Gibbins run under the posts to score.
The next twenty minutes was a sustained phase attack by the Rebels on the Hurricanes try line, scrum dominance and even a yellow card to TJ Perenara. Much to the frustration of the Mexican faithful, the Rebels could not convert field position to points and eventually the Hurricanes took back possession.
From this point the Hurricanes attacked well and scored two late tries to Nehe Milner-Skudder to close out the match.
The Wash up
The Rebels commanded the lions share of possession, but could not convert this into any real points advantage. When the backs took possession they looked indecisive and flat-footed – not a great formula for scoring points.
It was also hard to determine the overall backs strategy; inside channel pops or to just spin it wide and find holes. Regardless, it was not effective against a strong Hurricanes backline which knew how to score tries with ball in hand.
Whilst the set piece was solid (albeit with some untimely poor lineout throws), the class of the Hurricanes backline, even without the rested players, was too much for a outclassed Rebels backline.
The Game Changer
At 17-12 to the Hurricanes the scoreline wasn’t a disaster, but in the 58th minute an attacking clearing kick after a Rebels” turnover bounced cruelly for the visitors.
Soon after Gibbins was in for his try and the Canes were 12 points ahead. It was a bridge too far.
The G&GR MOTM
McMahon, Alo-Emile, Higginbotham and Stirzaker were best in a beaten side. Harris kicked for goal well and ‘Super Sefa’ impressed on debut . But the MOTM goes to James Marshall for stepping up to playmaker. He organised the backline effectively, kicked wisely and went for some solid runs up the field.
Michael Cheika won’t be getting out the black book after this performance. Aside from capped Wallabies there were not a lot of players screaming for the gold jersey. The only exception may be Paul Alo-Emile, who stepped up when Laurie Weeks was injured. Solid scrum and some nice runs to punch the gain line.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Perenara (12), Jane (44), Gibbins (58), Milner-Skudder (77, 80)
Conversions: Woodward (13, 46, 58, 80)
Penalties: Woodward (40)
Penalties: Harris (8, 27, 31, 40)
Cards & Citings
TJ Perenara (Yellow, 69)
Featured Image (top) is of three of the try scorers: Gibbins, Jane and Perenara – after Janes’s try.