Hurricanes discipline hands Blues crucial away derby win

Hurricanes discipline hands Blues crucial away derby win

Persistence is one way of correcting an unwanted run of bad form. Try and try again. It helps when your opposition suffers from their own poor performance, so as the Hurricanes discipline reduced their compliment from 15 to 12 [at one stage], the Blues Super Rugby team took advantage to gain a crucial away derby win.

Crucial, even sensational, when you think how long it has been since the Blues franchise won a local derby game away. It was February 2013 when the side last won against any New Zealand team on the road. If that is a confidence booster for fans, it might see more Blues jerseys appear at the remaining away NZ conference fixtures.

The hardest factor for the Hurricanes to consider after this game, is their own discipline. It accounted for the late scoring burst from the Blues. Reduced them to 14 men, they looked in trouble and resembled a team from the ‘bad old days’. Even after the Blues had scored, the home side did reply themselves from a quick break down the blindside. It looked like the visitors could not get ahead even with an extra player advantage.

Yet, another two further players were sent from the field, and the numbers game finally counted. In any Super Rugby clash, those odds are too hard to bear – even for a former Champion team. The opposition earned a penalty and one further try that saw an upset win.

The predicted storm that many assumed would fall on the Blues, was actually a disaster from within. Hurricanes discipline must be acknowledged as the culprit. Ill discipline you would call it, or in the case of Jordie Barrett’s yellow card, poor decision making. As the final tackler, he attempted an intercept that was never on. Judged a clear and intentional knock-on, his 10-minute loss was impossible to repair, and the Blues leave Wellington with all the competition points.

Hurricanes discipline hands Blues crucial away derby win

If not happy, then genuinely satisfied with their victory, Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu said after the game his team was building self-belief. They needed it, as a fast start from the home side had Ben Lam crossing the chalk after only two-minutes.

Akira Ioane opened the Blues account, and the incredible talents of new winger Mark Talea were front and center again. He seemed to gain meters at ease, and when a slim opportunity out wide presented itself, he scored with millimeters to spare (see video below).

Quality players have never been an issue for the Blues. Combining all the talent has sometimes seemed the major issue. Introducing ex-players from the ‘Canes themselves; think Otere Black, has not always been contributors to success in local derby games. They have suffered the indignity of too many close results – until tonight.

Now, under a resolved head coach Leon MacDonald, this group held firm in the face of pressure. They weren’t the team to implode. In the past, a Blues player was yellow carded just as Barrett was on Saturday, so they have had discipline issues themselves. Yet this weekend, it was the Hurricanes discipline that hurt them badly.

First Tyrel Lomax badly timed a hit on Stephen Perofeta. Like Sonny Bill Williams in the second British and Irish Lions test, he was judged fairly by the framework of World Rugby lawmakers, to meet the red card limit.

Vaea Fifita was next, with a similar indiscretion. Canes head coach Jason Holland will be asking his players to be responsible, not over jealous in the tackle. A big hit costs too much, and when you are down by two players for nearly 20 minutes (including Jordie Barrett’s card) any team will hurt you.

Weekend firms up some teams’ overall standings

Round Six of the 2020 season saw many critical matchups. These occurred across all three conferences. Those like the Hurricanes v Blues, Sharks v Jaguares, and the ACT Brumbies v Sunwolves offered leading teams opportunities to cement firm positions near the top of the ladder.

In Christchurch, a tentative Crusaders group found it hard going against the Reds. Many presumed a ‘demolition’ but in fact the visitors scored more tries and were only let down by their place knicking. Scott Barrett’s team got away with a win, and even as they sit near the top, they are not firing on all cylinders yet.

Precision is the key. Not so much razzle-dazzle, although the Chiefs certainly piled on the points as they defeated the Waratahs in Woolongong. The second game played there, as the Sunwolves had to relinquish their home game in Osaka [due to the Coronavirus].

Not every team can outscore their opponents. many matches will be won by a margin of 10 points or less. Precision football is required, with an awareness of self-discipline – being sent off, can cost you and your team heavily. The Hurricanes now sit adrift of the top rung of the ladder. By their own means, when they could be sitting above the Blues in the NZ conference.

After six weeks, the competition is only going to get tougher. Some teams still require a Bye, and that will settle the placings by Easter. After that, it will take precision, good planning, and discipline, to carry out a team’s objectives in Super Rugby.

See the Full Super Rugby standings here.


“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images