Vodacom Super 14

Hurricanes win S14 opener

2010-02-12 10:23
Hurricanes centre Conrad Smith (File)
Auckland - The Blues' new signing Stephen Brett was the first half hero and second half villain as the Hurricanes opened the 2010 Super 14 season with a come-from-behind 34-20 victory.

The former Crusaders flyhalf scored one try and made another as the Blues racked up a comfortable 20-12 lead by half-time, with the sharp backline getting the better of their All Black-studded opponents.

But fortunes changed at North Harbour Stadium in the second spell after an intercepted Brett pass gave the Hurricanes their only try and put them in the lead for the first time.

"The turning point of the game was that intercept. It really put us back on our heels," a rueful Blues captain Keven Mealamu said afterwards.

The Blues appeared to be heading for a comfortable victory at the break, when the score flattered the Hurricanes, but they fell apart in the second spell as the visitors scored 22 unanswered points.

"Obviously we were a bit nervous after the first half, but we came back out and got our act together and came out in the second half and put a pretty good performance together," Hurricanes captain Andrew Hore said.

Flyhalf Willie Ripia and scrumhalf Piri Weepu slotted nine penalties between them during the match to add to the single try.

Australian referee Stu Dickinson was extra vigilant on offences at the breakdown, blowing 13 penalties in the first spell alone and breaking the continuity of an otherwise free-flowing match.

The Hurricanes scored the first points of the new season's Super 14 with a penalty to Ripia after just a minute and a half.

But the Blues hit back four minutes into the spell with a try to Brett, who ran through a gaping Hurricanes defensive hole to touch down near the posts.

Both teams were in an attacking mood but the Blues were more fluid with ball in hand and were rewarded with a second try after 17 minutes.

Brett again figured towards the end of a sustained Blues attack, breaking the defensive line to put prop John Afoa over under the posts.

The Hurricanes back line struggled for the same penetration but Ripia kept them in touch with four penalties during the first spell.

Ripia kicked another penalty early in the second spell before Hosea Gear's 59 metre intercept try put the Hurricanes into the lead after Weepu added the conversion.

Weepu kicked four more penalties - the first following a charged down attempted chip kick by Brett - to give the Hurricanes an easy win that had appeared a remote possibility at half-time.

In next weekend's action, the Blues travel to Dunedin to face the Highlanders while the Hurricanes host the Force in Wellington.


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