Hurricanes snatch late victory
Beauden Barrett (Gallo Images)
Auckland - Flyhalf Beauden Barrett set up a last-minute try and coolly slotted a conversion kick after the whistle to help the Hurricanes snatch a 26-25 victory from the Blues at Eden Park on Friday.
Barrett broke through the Blues' line at midfield and brilliantly evaded a host of lunging defenders before off-loading to captain Conrad Smith, who charged 30 metres to cut the deficit to a point with his second try.
Barrett then kicked truly from a slight angle to hand the Hurricanes their third win of the Super Rugby season after they appeared destined to slump to an ill-disciplined loss.
"They did really well out to shut us out and nine times out of 10 they would have ended it," Smith said in a post-match interview. "We've got weaknesses, we're the first to admit it (but) we're patient and we wait for opportunities."
The Blues had taken a 25-19 lead in the 58th minute after kicking three straight penalties after the break, and kept the Hurricanes scoreless for over 20 minutes before finally succumbing to the visitors' pressure.
The Hurricanes held a 19-16 lead at half-time after three first-half tries but it was discard Ma'a Nonu who scored the first try against his former team.
The All Black inside centre barged over the line next to the right post from three metres out in the 14th minute after flyhalf Piri Weepu drove the ball forward to the line.
Lachie Munro's conversion put the Blues 10-0 up, but the Hurricanes hit back within seconds of the re-start, as fullback Andre Taylor touched down on the right after evading four defenders on a breathtaking angled run from the halfway line.
Wing Cory Jane scored the Hurricanes' second try in the 33rd minute after a terrible mistake by fullback Munro in the Blues' 22-yard line.
Munro collected a kick downfield but slipped as he tried to evade a tackle and Jane scooped up the loose ball before fending off Weepu to bolt over the line at the right-hand corner.
Smith gave the Hurricanes a 17-16 lead just before half-time as he grubbered a kick along the ground and collected a fortuitous rebound before streaming over right of the posts.
The Hurricanes' hopes were all but dashed by a series of infringements deep in their own territory.
Munro kicked six penalties and three in the second half to give the Blues a six-point break going into the last quarter, but the home side was caught dead by Barrett's moment of inspiration as they slumped to their fourth loss of the season.
The Hurricanes picked up a full-house of five points for their victory and moved into second place in the New Zealand Conference and third in the Overall standings.
The Blues left with a single point for losing by seven or fewer points, but stayed bottom of the New Zealand Conference and 13th in the Overall log.
In next weekend's Round 6 action, the Hurricanes host the Cheetahs in Wellington while the Blues have a bye.
15 Lachie Munro, 14 David Raikuna, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Piri Weepu, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Brad Mika, 7 Daniel Braid (captain), 6 Chris Lowrey, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tony Woodcock
Substitutes: 16 James Parsons, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Filo Paulo, 19 Sean Polwart, 20 Gareth Anscombe, 21 Michael Hobbs, 22 Hadleigh Parkes
15 Andre Taylor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben May
Substitutes: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Michael Bent, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Chris Eaton, 21 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 22 Charlie Ngatai