Hurricanes kick their way to Super Rugby top spot

May 24, 2024 8:54 pm

[Source: Hurricanes/Facebook]

The Wellington, New Zealand-based Hurricanes overcame an early red card and a thrilling second half rally from the Hamilton-based Chiefs to win 20-17 in Super Rugby Pacific on Friday with a penalty in the 79th minute.

The Hurricanes lost hooker Raymond Tuputupu to a yellow card for head contact in the eighth minute which was upgraded to a red card. Despite that disadvantage they dominated the first half to lead 14-0 at halftime.

The Chiefs rallied to level the match at 17-17 before flyhalf Brett Cameron sealed the Hurricanes win. The kick from more than 40 meters usually would be taken by Hurricanes captain Jordie Barrett but Barrett deferred to Cameron, who nailed the winning goal.

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The win lifted the previously second-place Hurricanes atop the table at the start of Super Rugby’s penultimate regular-season round. The Chiefs took a bonus point but stay third after losing their unbeaten record at home this season.

“It’s huge to get a win on the road, especially at this stage of the season with home finals at stake,” Cameron said. “We were happy with how we were going at halftime, moving the ball well. I guess we just had to ride the momentum in the second half, be calm and stay in it.”

Despite being reduced to 14 men for 20 minutes after Tuputupu’s dismissal, the Hurricanes scored the first try of the match through prop Xavier Numia. Flanker Peter Lakai slipped a short pass to Numia in a gap and he ran almost 30 meters to score.

The Hurricanes’ running and passing game was superb in the first half. They attacked through the middle of the field or moved the ball quickly to the outside channels. With neat offloads of inside-outside passes, they created a try for Barrett to build their halftime lead.

The Chiefs had little possession before halftime but scored with their first possession of the second half through winger Emoni Narawa and again through Wallace Sititi after the Hurricanes lost winger Kini Naholo to a yellow card.

The Hurricanes led through a Cameron penalty until Damian McKenzie’s penalty in the 71st minute leveled the scores.

A try to Naholo in the 76th minute was disallowed because of a knock on spotted by the TMO but the Hurricanes stayed on attack and won the critical penalty when Chiefs captain Luke Jacobson was ruled to have not rolled away at a ruck.

The decision angered the crowd of 22,000 but pleased the Hurricanes, who now are 11-2 for the season.

“It’s so special. It’s such a tough place to come and win and we were up against a formidable Chiefs side tonight,” Barrett said. “We gave ourselves a buffer at halftime and we knew there would be a response and we fell over the line in the end.”