Cake Tin: SA sides mostly crumble

    2016-08-03 06:30

    Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

    Cape Town – The Lions will enter Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby final mindful of a daunting statistic ... that in recent years the Hurricanes have beaten South African opponents in their “Cake Tin” 87.5 percent of the time.

    Since the competition switched to conference systems in 2011 – thus six seasons of activity so far on that basis – the ‘Canes have hosted SA opposition eight times at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium and won seven of those clashes.

    So perhaps the underdogs from Johannesburg, who would also defy showpiece history if they won on Saturday after crossing the Indian Ocean at short notice, should take heart from the lone, unexpected success in that period.

    It came in the unlikely shape of the Cheetahs, who simultaneously achieved their maiden triumph on New Zealand soil by defeating the Hurricanes 47-38 in a breathless affair on March 31, 2012.

    The side from Bloemfontein looked goners when they trailed 32-11 at one point in the first half, but produced one of the most rousing of fightbacks to grab the spoils – they notched six tries to four, with three of them coming between fired-up props Coenie Oosthuizen (two) and WP Nel, both of whom have since moved on to notably different pastures.

    But that’s where conference-era success for SA teams in the often windy Cake Tin both begins and ends.

    The other seven fixtures at the ground have all gone the way of the ‘Canes, including two this season and one of them a particularly fresh memory: the quarter-final less than a fortnight ago where the Sharks were blitzed 41-0 in a ferocious, goalposts-rocking gale.

    Earlier in the 2016 campaign, the unsung Kings surprisingly put up a much more spirited fight at the venue, eventually losing by a cruel 42-20 but being in the contest into the final 10 minutes or so until two late converted tries gave the scoreboard a flattering look for the winners.

    The Lions themselves last played the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium on June 4, 2011 and in round 16 of that year’s competition, surrendering 38-27 although Jaco Taute (later to switch to the Stormers) managed two tries to match the personal brace registered by the Hurricanes’ Hosea Gear in their four-tries-to-three victory.

    South African outfits have fared better over the past six years if tackling the Hurricanes in NZ at one their smaller, alternative home venues.

    Of the four matches played outside Wellington since Super Rugby’s new shape in 2011, SA sides have prevailed twice for a rather more respectable 50 percent win strike rate.

    Here are all Hurricanes v SA teams results at the Cake Tin over the six years mentioned:

    2016: Hurricanes 41 Sharks 0 (QF), Hurricanes 42 Kings 20; 2015: Hurricanes 32 Sharks 24, Hurricanes 25 Stormers 20; 2014: Hurricanes 60 Cheetahs 27; 2013: Hurricanes 46 Kings 30; 2012: Hurricanes 38 Cheetahs 47; 2011: Hurricanes 38 Lions 27.

    Here are the results of games played at other ‘Canes home venues in that time:

    2014 (at Napier): Hurricanes 25 Bulls 20; 2013 (at Palmerston North): Hurricanes 16 Stormers 18; 2012 (at New Plymouth): Hurricanes 42 Sharks 18; 2011 (at Napier): Hurricanes 14 Bulls 26.

    *Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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