On a wet Sunday afternoon in Wellington, the Hurricanes played host to the Crusaders in the second round of Super Rugby Aotearoa. Both sides entered the match without a win to their names (the Hurricanes lost to the Blues in the first week while the Crusaders had a first-round bye) so there was plenty of motivation for players on both sides of the pitch.

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The Crusaders took an early lead through Sevu Reece and scored plenty of tries on the night while the Hurricanes kept themselves in the hunt for most of the encounter thanks to the boot of Jackson Garden-Bachop. In the end, the Crusaders’ try-scoring prowess was simply too much for the home side, with the visitors winning 39-25.

How did the Hurricanes players rate?

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Sam Smith reports from the Wark as the Chiefs host the Blues at FMG Stadium. The rain didn’t stop the locals turning out but a few went home with the bitter taste of disappointment!

1. Fraser Armstrong – 7/10

Handled himself well in the set-piece and defended stoutly.

2. Dane Coles – 5.5

The Hurricanes needed more from him. The lineout wasn’t functioning that well and he didn’t bring his abrasive game. Was a tad quiet. When his team had a penalty in front of the Crusaders’ sticks and the call was for points not a scrum, you got the sense that the Hurricanes were mentally shot. Not his best day out.

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3. Tyrel Lomax – 7

Credible performance against one of the greatest loose heads to play the game. Worked in the tight and didn’t shirk it.

4. James Blackwell – 8.5

Quite possibly the man of the match. Did he ever stop working? Carried strong and stole a lineout or two. Hard to comprehend where the Hurricanes would be without this workhorse. He had a defensive misread that did not lead to a try but outside of that was all ticker. Well played, that man.

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5. Vaea Fifita – 4

Rubbish match. He is capable of so much more but his body height was poor into contact as was his technique. Will need to work hard to justify selection next week.

6. Reed Prinsep – 6

Worked hard in defence but didn’t really bring much in possession. He’s an intelligent player but was guilty of being lateral when coming around the corner, and being too deep when taking the ball. Needs to square up and flatten up when taking on the line.

7. Du’Plessis Kirifi – 8

Big effort and defensively the best Hurricane on the park, making 11 tackles. He copped the odd harsh call from the referee at the breakdown but that still did not deter him from him imposing himself in that space.

8. Ardie Savea – 6.5

Worked his way into the match but looked short of a run as he didn’t dominate as he has in seasons past. Would have liked him to work off Blackwell more but still expect he and Kirifi to blend well in the near future.

9. TJ Perenara – 7.5

Very solid performance by the All Blacks scrum half. Even when he made the odd error, he was the first to look to fix his own mistake. Made a try saving intercept which typified his ability to read an attack. Had a period of time off the park due to a head injury assessment but returned to the fray with all of his class.

10. Jackson Garden-Bachop – 7.5

Good day out but cost his side a certain 7 points after failing to pop to Ngani Laumape on his right after making a wonderful break himself. Laumape was clear for the line under the black dot but it wasn’t too be. Needs to trust his own running game further as the Hurricanes looked better when he took on the line.

11. Ben Lam – 5.5

Poor on defence. Crusaders scored twice down his edge early in the match and the big man had defensive misreads that should not be excused at this level. Furthermore, in attack needs to square the hips and hit the space at pace. Ran too laterally but did actually clean out well at times, to his credit.

12. Ngani Laumape – 6.5

Run the ball, son. That’s what your good at, that’s what you should do. When Laumape is part of an unnecessarily complex attack, he loses clarity and sometimes makes basic errors – as we saw early in the first half. Play him flat and play him hard at the line. Worked well to put Asafo Aumua over for his try.

13. Vince Aso – 6

Made two damaging attacks but undid the good work with kicks instead of looking for his support. His own performance typified that of the Hurricanes, strength and stupidity in the blink of an eye. He has better rugby in him and needs to straighten the attack and move the ball while backing up on the inside as opposed to running his attack to the edge and suffocating opportunity.

14. Wes Goosen – 6.5

A dependable performance. Doesn’t give his opponent much, chased his kicks and made most of his tackles. Had limited opportunity in attack and probably needed to look for a little more work. However, was part of a backline that appears unsure of what it’s trying to do.

15. Chase Titia – 6.5

Immensely talented, has shades of Andre Taylor about him. Had moments of brilliance but there were moments he looked lost in defence and needed to communicate better with his wingers. He will get better with greater exposure at this level.

Reserves:

16. Asafo Aumua – 6.5

Scored a very good try late in the match to keep his side in the match. Needed to look for work closer in where his physicality is best used.

17. Ben May – 5

Worked hard to lift the tempo but was caught out on a lazy defensive read late in the match allowing David Havili to cross the paint untouched. A player of his experience should have done better. Not a great day out for him.

18. Alex Fidow – 5

Didn’t have much of an impact.

19. Scott Scrafton – 5

Should get a run next week for Fifita. Made a few tackles and won a lineout or two in his cameo.

20. Gareth Evans – 5.5

The Hurricanes missed what he can bring right from the start.

21. Jamie Booth – 6.5

Very handy performance when Perenara was off. Brought the energy and straightened the attack. Hurricanes have a ready-made replacement for their co-captain.

22. Billy Proctor – 5

Needed to make more of an impact.

23. Kobus van Wyk – 3

Made some very very costly errors.

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