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‘A crazy game’: ‘Lessons’ to learn as Hurricanes sneak past Moana Pasifika

By Finn Morton
Siale Lauaki (L) of the Hurricanes celebrates with Ben Grant and Raymond Tuputupu of the Hurricanes after scoring a try during the round 13 Super Rugby Pacific match between Hurricanes and Moana Pasifika at Sky Stadium, on May 17, 2024, in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

After hanging on for a tight 32-24 win over Moana Pasifika on Friday night, captain Brad Shields has called on the Hurricanes to “tighten the screws” ahead of a blockbuster clash with the Chiefs at FMG Stadium next week.

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Following their agonising defeat to the Blues in a top-of-the-table clash last week, the Hurricanes had to do it the hard way as they fought in an enthrallingly tense battle with Moana Pasifika at Wellington’s Sky Stadium.

The Hurricanes have kept their hopes of at least a top-two finish in Super Rugby Pacific alive with the victory, but it didn’t come easy. They scored the first 19 points of the night before Moana Pasifika hit back with 17 unanswered of their own.

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It was a bit of a seesawing battle from there, although competition heavyweights the Hurricanes never lost their lead. Moana came close to a shock win after making in a one-try match inside the final 10 minutes but the Hurricanes ensured time was on their side.

First five Aidan Morgan converted a long-range penalty with three minutes to go which sealed the win – much to the relief of the playing group, coaching staff and those fans watching on from the stands at the Cake Tin.

“That was a crazy game,” Shields said on Sky Sport NZ’s broadcast. “Happy to get through that one.

“I think it was just about focusing on what we needed to do, our basics. The thing is when we’re going well it’s because we’re doing the real small things right.

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“When we get a little bit behind or a little bit stuck it’s because we’re trying a little bit too hard or doing things that aren’t in our DNA.

“You saw there, when you give Moana steam up and you give them a little bit of energy towards the end of that second half, they’re a difficult team to handle.

“I’m really proud of the boys, the way we stuck in there. I thought our impact boys came on and did a really good job for us tonight.”

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Front rowers Raymond Tuputupu and Siale Lauaki got the ball rolling for the Hurricanes by scoring the first two tries of the night. Halfback Richard Judd reaped the rewards of some Dan Sinkinson magic to score another later in the first term.

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The Hurricanes had raced out to a 19-nil lead but three unanswered tries the other way saw the visitors reduce the deficit to just two points early in the second half. While Peter Lakai extended the Cans’ lead a couple of minutes later, the match was set for an epic finale.

An incredible upset was well and truly on the cards when replacement Alamanda Motuga made a one-try game with a score inside the final 10 minutes, but the men from New Zealand’s capital were good enough to hang on in the end.

“Our fight was pretty good. We hung in there really well. I think there’s always going to be lessons from the game.

“We started the first, I think 28 minutes… we came out of there really strong with three tries. It’s how we can stay on top is the next piece.

“I think we did really well to stay in it. We just need to tighten the screws a little bit coming into the next game against the Chiefs.”

The Chiefs can leapfrog the men from Wellington on the ladder in round 14 if they manage to record a bonus point win and also prevent the Hurricanes from earning a losing bonus point.

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