The Hurricanes beat the Chiefs 25-9 to charge into the Super Rugby final with a complete shut out performance.
It will be the second time that the Hurricanes will host a final in successive seasons, but they first had to work through a Chiefs side that refused to give up for the full 80-minutes. Outscoring the visitors three tries to zero, the Hurricanes can thank their lucky stars that standout performers Beauden Barrett and Ardie Savea shone again.
Both leaders of the side, Savea and Barrett were crucial in the victory. Savea turned over a lot of good Chiefs ball at the breakdown and Barrett set up two of the Hurricanes three tries on the night, and even managed to score one of his own.
The loss of Dane Coles who couldn’t recover from a rib injury promoted TJ Perenara to captain for the crucial encounter. Perenara said he was proud of the defense and that the team would do all they could to prepare well enough to bring a first Super Rugby title to the capital.
Our defence set the standard for us. I don’t think the depth of our squad can go without recognition, but it’s awesome being in front of our home fans because it gives us the edge that we need.
A dejected Aaron Cruden had the job of fronting the media following the loss. The co-captain said the loss was tough to take but offered no excuses for what was an under-par performance.
We came down here confident but unfortunately we just didn’t front in crucial. For such a young group we’ve got here, this will be a good experience going forward. A couple of bounces didn’t go our way and we weren’t able to score points when we needed to.
The travel factor clearly had an affect on the Chiefs in the semi final because they were completely over matched in line speed. Trying to ‘live in the moment’ as has become the norm for Dave Rennie and his men, but a lot of fans will wonder why so many easy chances on goal were turned down in the first half.
The Hurricanes were clinical in every area of the game and ran out deserving winners.
Super Rugby: Hurricanes Charge Into Final
The Hurricanes escaped multiple Chiefs opportunities to score throughout the first half. Not only that, but the home side were lucky not to lose on of their own to the sin bin. Fortune, as they say, favors the brave, but this wasn’t the case for the Chiefs. With a sustained period of attack near the line, the Chiefs couldn’t dot the ball down as the Hurricanes defence showed championship-winning heart under immense pressure.
Unarguably the best first five in the world right now, Beauden Barrett put on another masterclass in the semi final.
Barrett set up both the Hurricanes tries in the first half, one of which he scored himself. Barrett’s speed and awareness on attack set Willis Halaholo free to score the first try of the night. Intercepting a pass from Chiefs co captain Sam Cane, Barrett had a clear run to the try line to score the home sides second five-pointer of the night.
The Chiefs had the better of the territory and possession in the first half, but could only muster six points. The Hurricanes rode their luck and took all their opportunities to be deserving 15-6 leaders at halftime.
Chiefs Turn Down Easy Penalties But Fail To Score
When Victor Vito scored the Hurricanes third try, the Chiefs were always going to be up against it. Scoreboard pressure coupled with a large points deficit saw errors begin to creep into the visitors game that proved costly. When Rennie’s men did have chances for tries, typically exceptional players crumbled under the pressure of the moment. In fact, it is the third ever time in his tenure that a Chiefs side has been held tryless.
Barrett slotted a penalty to take the deficit out to past three tries. Cory Jane was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock down, but with little time to go in the game, this wasn’t providing the Chiefs with too much hope. The Chiefs were never able to recover and dropped too much ball in scoring situations.
The Hurricanes kept the Chiefs to just three penalties and held on for a clinical 25-9 win.
Hurricanes Beat The Chiefs To Advance To Final
Attention will now turn to the second semi final between the Lions and the Highlanders. Could we see a repeat of the 2015 Super Rugby final? Will the Lions represent South African rugby with pride? Whatever the case, a full house will pack out the Westpac Stadium in Wellington next Saturday evening.
Tries: Willis Halaholo, Beauden Barrett, Victor Vito, Penalties: Beauden Barrett 2, Conversions: Beauden Barrett 2
Penalties: Damian McKenzie 3