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Unbeaten Hurricanes overcome ‘good test of character’ against Drua in Fiji

By Finn Morton
Aidan Morgan of the Hurricane during the round nine Super Rugby Pacific match between Fijian Drua and Hurricanes at HFC Stadium, on April 19, 2024, in Suva, Fiji. (Photo by Pita Simpson/Getty Images)

Hurricanes captain Brad Shields was almost lost for words after the ladder leaders overcame a “good test of character” with a 38-15 win over the Fijian Drua in Suva on Friday night.

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With this being the Drua’s first home match at HFC Bank Stadium this season, the Hurricanes had to contend with a vibrant crowd on what looked like an incredible night under the lights in Fiji’s capital city.

But the Hurricanes, as commentator Greg Clarke mentioned, had “taken the crowd out it” before the break after running in four tries to the Drua’s one. Billy Proctor, Devan Flanders, Jordie Barret and James O’Reilly helped the visitors take a 21-point lead into the sheds.

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It was an imposing deficit for the Drua but they looked to throw everything at their opponents early in the second half. The hosts finished the match with almost 2.5 times the number of carries compared to the Canes (158 to 65) which shows how hard they fought.

The Hurricanes had three players sent to the sin bin inside the final quarter of the battle, too, but managed to hang on for their eighth win from as many starts this season.

“I haven’t got many words after that. It was pretty crazy, awesome atmosphere. Just shows over here you’ve got to go right down to the 80th minute,” captain Brad Shields said post-game.

“It’s a good test of our character and each week we talk about a new challenge and this was definitely one of them.

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“We talked about it all week, it’s going to be the effort early,” he added.

“We didn’t think we’d be down to 13 but look it does show good character.

Match Summary

1
Penalty Goals
1
2
Tries
5
1
Conversions
5
0
Drop Goals
0
158
Carries
65
4
Line Breaks
5
21
Turnovers Lost
12
5
Turnovers Won
9

“The way we held it together on the try line there, the way we connected on (defence), I’m just really proud of our effort.

“It was an unreal challenge and it was good to come away on the good side.”

It was a frustrating night for the Drua and their supporters with the team coughing up possession in attack, and then being unable to prevent the Hurricanes’ clinical reply which resulted in points down the other end more than once.

In the 33rd minute, the Drua knocked the ball on in the first phase off their own scrum. The Hurricanes took full advantage with Jordie Barrett scoring the visitor’s third try of the night less than one minute later.

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The same thing happened off the following kick-off, with poor execution costing the Drua and eventually leading to a James O’Reilly try just before the half-time interval.

Even with a two-player advantage at one stage, the Dura couldn’t make the most of it. Captain Tevita Ikanivere, who had recently become a father for the first time, was visibly disappointed post-game.

“Against a quality side like this, we had the opportunity, we had it for the taking and we had about 10,15 minutes with 14 people and one with 13 men on the field,” Ikanivere explained.

“I think that’s why the Hurricanes are unbeaten. They pushed through and we didn’t take the opportunities, we didn’t go wide and we just wanted to go straight at them.

“We’ll go back to the drawing board and see and review and go again next week.”

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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