Wellington - The Hurricanes produced a workman-like performance to grab a
bonus-point and defeat a game Auto and General Lions team 33-18 in
their Vodacom Super 14 match in Wellington Saturday.
The home side led from start to finish and never really looked in
trouble against the Lions, whose defence and discipline let them down
again in a game where they certainly had the measure of their
opposition for large periods of the game.
In the end it was too many mistakes at crucial times on attack,
and tackles slipped on defence that gave the Hurricanes the edge.
The Canes moved to the top of the log – if only briefly – after their third victory in as many weeks.
There were impressive performances by midfielder Doppies la Grange,
loose forwards Todd Clever and Derick Minnie and an improved run for
Carlos Spencer, who still seems to be struggling to reach the levels of
brilliance we all expect of him.
However in a game where referee Paul Marks was particularly harsh on
the Lions scrum for early engagement, and where penalties flowed
throughout, it was the Hurricanes who kicked off in style with two
early penalties from flyhalf Willie Ripia.
With Michael Paterson disrupting the Lions lineouts with his early
jumps at the front, it set the stage for the Hurricanes opening try.
Paterson stole the ball at the front, with the ball travelling the
length of the field twice before he got it back to stretch over the
line with a nice instep.
The Lions showed they were more than competitive when they
narrowed the deficit after an exceptional line-out drive where Minnie
crashed over easily for the try. Rose converted before Ripia extended
the lead further with the Lions keeping in touch just before the break.
But in the crucial period before half-time, the Hurricanes scored again
– this time through scrumhalf Piri Weepu who broke right off the back
of the scrum to run in past the defensive line and give his side a 21-7
The Lions came back into it and looked as if they were getting the
ascendancy in the first part of the half when Todd Clever broke through
to score, and Rose added a penalty to bring them within six points.
But it was as close as they were to come as Canes captain Andrew Hore
broke three tackles, then threw a perfect dummy to flummox Rose and
score a beauty of a try.
David Smith crossed shortly afterwards to give the bonus point, with
the Lions not able to capitalise on a yellow card for Ma’a Nonu in the
interim and despite some late attacking forays, were never really close
to the comeback they managed last week against the Chiefs.
Hurricanes - Tries: Michael Paterson, Piri Weepu, Andrew Hore, David Smith. Conversions: Piri Weepu, Willie Ripia. Penalties: Ripia (3).
Auto & General Lions - Tries: Derick Minnie, Todd Clever. Conversion: Earl Rose. Penalties: Rose (2).