The Hurricanes produced a strong performance late in the second-half to beat the Western Force 34-12 in Perth on Saturday.
Rugby is about attack and defence. Win one and you are half-way there.
The Hurricanes won both over in Perth today. In the process they made nonsense of the statistics that describe possession and territory. If you have territory and possession but do not put points on the board, you are losing. 72% counted for little, other than a lamentation of lost opportunities. But rather than that, there should be praise of the defence that kept 72% to two scores and the attack that turned 28% into six scores.
The score 34-12 does not tell the full story without 72%, the advantage which the Hurricanes destroyed with a laugh. It suited the impish nature of their captain, TJ Perenara.
The first score was two minutes in coming and probably tells the story of the differences in defence and attack between the two sides. The Force were up near the halfway line when Michael Ruru kicked a box kick down to Cory Jane, one of the very best catchers of such things. TJ Perenara gave to Jordy Barrett on the blindside of the tackle/ruck. He ran ahead and then gave on his outside to Ngani Laumape. The stocky centre raced ahead, bumped off Dane Haylett-Petty's attempt at a tackle and scored in the right corner. Beauden Barrett converted from far out. 7-0 after just two minutes.
The one side got the ball and kicked; the other side got the ball and ran.
After this the Force spent a half an hour or so attacking without scoring. They bashed at line, they kicked penalties into touch for five-metre line-outs, they had a five-metre scrum. They were brave and determined but did not score. The Hurricanes went onto the attack and turned a penalty into a five-metre line-out. They attacked for one minute and prop Loni Uhila scored a try. 12-0 after 37 minutes, the half-time score.
The Force scored first in the second half and it was fortuitous rather than through cunning.
They went on attacking early in the second half and with the referee playing a penalty advantage Peter Grant lofted an up-'n-under towards the Hurricanes line. The ball bobbled to Haylett-Petty who was near the goal-line. He grabbed the ball and scored. 12-7 after 45 minutes.
A penalty gave the Hurricanes a five-metre line-out. They quickly threw low to the front and peeled, sending substitute hooker Lenoi Apisai over in the right corner. 17-7
The Force came close to scoring when Curtis Rona forced his way ahead and gave inside to Grant who was over, but as he went over Jordi Barrett tackled and turned him so that he could not ground the ball.
Instead it was the Hurricanes who scored - three tries, which doubled their score.
First there was a double blow for the Force. The Hurricanes attacked from far out and Perenara grubbered a perfect grubber for Vince Aso to gather and score. And when Perenara kicked, Dane Haylett-Petty tackled him late and was sent to the sin bin, not a profitable idea.
Perenara kicked downfield from inside his own half. Beauden Barrett chased. James Verity-Am got to the ball first but Barrett got him and the Force wing tried to sling the ball infield to Richard Hardwick but Perenara got to the ball and kicked it ahead, gathered the kind bounce and somersaulted a try in the left corner. 27-7 after 70 minutes.
Right from the kick-off the Hurricanes attacked again. Nehe Milner-Skudder, on the right wing as a substitute, raced smoothly past three defenders and gave inside. The Hurricanes went left and then came back where they had four against one. It took only one of the four, Laumape, to score their sixth try. 34-77 with eight minutes to play.
The Force again kicked a penalty into touch for an attacking line-out and, wonderful to relate, this time it worked. They mauled ahead and Hardwick broke off and scored.
Man of the Match: Not easy - not with those brothers and those centres and those unyielding forwards but it is no surprise if our choice is TJ Perenara, so lively, so skilful and with such vision and intuition.
For Western Force:
Tries: D Haylett-Petty, Hardwick
Tries: Laumape 2, Uhila, Apisai, Aso, Perenara
Cons: B Barrett 2
Yellow cards: Dane Haylett-Petty (Western Force, 68 - foul play, late tackle); Ngani Laumape (Hurricanes, 77 - repeated infringements. offside)
Western Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 James Verity-Amm, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Francois van Wyk.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Mitchell Short, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Marcel Brache.
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Thomas Perenara (captain), 8 Brad Shields, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Vaea Fifita, 4 Sam Lousi, 3 Ben May, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Loni Uhila.
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19 James Blackwell, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Otere Black, 23 Nehe Milner-Skudder.
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper (Australia), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
For more rugby news, visit Rugby365.com