It took a while for them to warm up, but once they got going the Brumbies made easy work of a pretty ordinary Hurricanes side at the Cake Tin. The men from Canberra got terrible news during the lead-up as they lost David Pocock for the season to another knee injury. While their star flanker was certainly missed, they were disciplined and accurate enough to take a much-needed five points from the four-try bonus win.
There isn’t anything really magical about their attack patterns, they move the ball laterally and move the ball into half-gaps. The key is the speed which they move the ball. Nic White clears the ball quickly and rarely breaks himself. A team who committed themselves to disrupting at the breakdown might give them problems, but only Jack Lam seemed to be willing and able for the lackluster Wellington side.
Once again the Hurricanes forwards looked off the pace. Even with four capped All Blacks in the tight five they get pushed around too easily and lack a bit of attitude. T.J. Perenara had an iffy night, and Cardiff Vaega looked overwhelmed in his first Super Rugby start. Even Conrad Smith made a bad mistake on defense that allowed Jesse Mogg to stroll over untouched.
Losing both Pocock and Fotu Auelua has significantly altered the balance of the Brumbies’ pack, and though they did well enough tonight they’ll have to make a couple changes to make the playoffs. Locky McCaffrey has made an impact every time he has come on and maybe deserves a shot at the back of the scrum, but openside is a bit of a problem. Jarrad Butler seems more of a utility reserve than an out-and-out anything, and with no George Smith or Colby Fainga’a to call on, options look slim.
Meanwhile Henry Speight is champing at the bit to get a run with the Wallabies. He had another impressive outing and just seems to do everything well. Tevita Kuridrani looks closer to form and Pat McCabe had his best outing in ages. Stephen Moore was excellent up front and really lifted the side in the absence of Pocock.
A great result for the Brumbies, though the performance could use a little more polish. Early days yet, however, and they can be pretty pleased with their progress. The Hurricanes on the other hand are in a spot of bother. Even the lowly Highlanders are looking a much better side so far. Mark Hammett might not want to get too comfy in his seat the way things are going.
HURRICANES 21 vs 29 BRUMBIES
Friday, March 7, 06:35 GMT, Wellington
07 mins – B. Barrett pen 3-0
20 mins – B. Barrett pen 6-0
30 mins – N. White pen 6-3
32 mins – T.J. Perenara try 11-3
33 mins – B. Barrett con 13-3
36 mins – J. Mogg try 13-8
37 mins – N. White con 13-10
40 mins – R. Coleman try 13-15
43 mins – T. Kuridrani try 13-20
44 mins – N. White try 13-22
55 mins – B. Barrett pen 16-22
71 mins – L. McCaffrey try 16-27
72 mins – N. White con 16-29
78 mins – B. Thomson try 21-29
J. Marshall (M. Banks 73); C. Jane, C. Smith (capt.), C. Vaega (A. Leiua 45), J. Savea; B. Barrett, T.J. Perenara (C. Smylie 61); B. Franks (C. Eves 73), D. Coles (M. Matu’u 67), J. Schwalger (J. To’omaga-Allen 45); J. Thrush, M. Reddish (J. Broadhurst 52); A. Hill (A. Savea 48), J. Lam, B. Thomson.
J. Mogg; H. Speight, T. Kuridrani, P. McCabe (A. Smith 73), R. Coleman; M. To’omua (L. Cronje 56), N. White; S. Sio (J.P. Smith 58), S. Moore (J. Mann-Rea 77), B. Alexander (R. Smith 66); L. Power (L. McCaffrey 58), S. Carter; S. Fardy, J. Butler (J. Smiler 73), B. Mowen (capt.).
Referee: C. Joubert (SARU)
Assistants: M. Fraser (NZRU) & B. Pickerill (NZRU)
TMO: G. Newman (NZRU)