In a see-sawing affair in the wet at Sky Stadium in Wellington, neither team played well enough to win but the Canes took their chances when it mattered and that ultimately proved the difference. The Hurricanes struggled in the first half to combat the Blues driving maul, but oddly dominated at scrum time.
In the backs, the focus before the match was on the battle of the Barrett brothers at fullback and it didn’t disappoint. But it was younger brother Jordie who got the last laugh, slotting a match-winning conversion with just minutes left on the clock.
Ngani Laumape and the Hurricanes backrow were particular standouts, but the overall energy from the team, mainly in attack, set the tone for the match. The impact of the bench was probably the difference as well. Here’s how the Hurricanes rated:
Fraser Armstrong – 7/10
Worked hard all night, in a strong performance from the Hurricanes scrum. Also carried and defended well.
Dane Coles – 7.5/10
Coles was near perfect from the set-piece, in what was a true captain’s knock. The All Blacks hooker handed his side the lead in the 44th, running a strong line to cross from a couple of metres out.
Tyrel Lomax – 7/10
Did his job in the scrum, and also got involved with ball-in-hand. Did what his team him needed him to.
James Blackwell – 6.5/10
Did his job around the field, and was a reliable option at the lineout. Was an honest performance from one of the hardest working guys in the Hurricanes squad.
Scott Scrafton – 7/10
Was a workhorse tonight, putting his head in some pretty dark places to do his job for the team.
Reed Prinsep – 7.5/10
Showed plenty of physicality in both attack and defence, and did his job at the breakdown. His performance was textbook for how a blindside flanker should perform. Was rewarded with a try in the 34th minute off a driving maul.
Du’Plessis Kirifi – 8/10
Was brilliant all night, looking particularly energetic on attack but also did his job both in defence and around the breakdown. Ran a great line through the Blues defence that eventually led to the yellow card for Emoni Narawa. Had a busy night, constantly looked to get involved. He was everywhere!
Ardie Savea – 7.5/10
Another classic performance from the All Blacks backrower, with an abundance of energy proving effective when he got involved. Ran all night with his near trademark powerful leg drive. Moment of the match was his 40-metre burst from a pick and go, catching the Blues defence napping. Otherwise an impressive performance in defence and around the breakdown; was also one of the leading options at the lineout.
TJ Perenara – 7.5/10
Won’t want to watch Beauden Barrett’s try again, with the All Blacks halfback practically jumping out of his way anticipating an intercept. Otherwise controlled the tempo of the match well, playing his classic energetic game. Showed his class once again with a simple yet effective pass setting up Dane Coles for a try.
Jackson Garden-Bachop – 7/10
Took the line on when he needed to, and guided the team around the park with patience. Did drift in and out of the match, but overall the flyhalf did his job. He was unlucky not to have set Jordie Barret up for a try early in the match, with the ball just going forward.
Ben Lam – 6.5/10
Had a quiet first half where the ball didn’t come his way. Got more involved in the second but he didn’t get the chance to really impose himself.
Ngani Laumape – 9/10
Nobody could question who the standout player for the Hurricanes was tonight. In a man-of-the-match performance, Laumape dominated practically from the get-go. Bamboozled 2-time World Player of the Year, Beauden Barrett, in his return to Wellington with a brilliant in and away. After getting away from Barrett, the inside centre did what he does best – running over anyone who stands in his way. Ran over Otere Black for the games first five-pointer. De ja vu minutes later, running right over Beauden Barrett before being stopped just short of the chalk. Capped off a great night with a big hit on Blues replacement Matt Duffie, to give his side the momentum. He wasn’t perfect tonight, but Ngani Laumape got pretty close.
Peter Umaga-Jensen – 8/10
Ran with purpose and intent all night, constantly looking dangerous. Broke through the heart of the Blues defence early with a hard and direct line, in what was a common sight all night.
Kobus Van Wyk – 6/10
The ball didn’t come his way at all tonight. Got the occasional chance but it wasn’t any ball in space.
Jordie Barrett – 8/10
This isn’t anything new, but the Hurricanes are very much Jordie Barrett’s team and the 23-year-old played like it tonight. Even though he wasn’t their best, the fullback was the most important player on the park wearing yellow. Stood up when his team needed him to, especially when kicking for touch. In tough conditions, he kicked to the corner with pinpoint accuracy. Brilliant kick for touch that led to Prinsep’s try. Held his own in the battle against his Brother with his in-field play too, guiding his team around the park alongside Garden-Bachop. Handled the pressure well to slot the winner late.
Asafo Aumua – 7/10
Came on and tried to use his pace and strength to break the brick wall that was the Blues defence at the death. Scored a pivotal try late that allowed Barrett to kick the winning points.
Pouri Rakete-Stones – 5.5/10
Alex Fidow – 6/10
Isaia Walker-Leawere – 6/10
Vaea Fifita – 6/10
Jamie Booth – 6.5/10
Did what he needed to when he came on.
Billy Proctor – N/A
Wes Goosen – 6/10
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