Another great round of Super Rugby Aotearoa came to pass with some payback to the Blues from the Hurricanes and a fantastic second half display which saw the Highlanders home against a stunned Chiefs outfit.
Hurricanes v Blues:
A great contest ended with the Hurricanes edging out the Blues 29-27 in Wellington.
It was clear in the first three minutes that the men from Auckland had a bigger challenge on their hands than in Round 1, when the teams first met, when the ever-impressive Ngani Laumape blazed round the outside to score the ‘Canes first try of the evening.
The Blues hit back shortly thereafter when Beauden Barrett sliced through the midfield defence and streaked to the try-line.
The Blues’ set-piece yielded good reward as they crashed over from a lineout maul to take the score to 15-7 on the half-hour mark. The move was replicated minutes later by the Hurricanes, however, with Reed Prinsep peeling off and diving over in the corner.
An easy Jordie Barrett penalty heralded the conclusion of the first half as the teams jogged off to the shed with the score tied up at 15-all.
The see-saw nature of the game continued to manifest itself in the second half with the ‘Canes striking first through a Dane Coles try before Akira Ioane dotted down from close range.
It seemed that the Blues might run away with the game when another well-worked lineout move resulted in additional try, taking the score to 27-22, however, it proved to be the catalyst which shook the Hurricanes awake after a relatively quiet third quarter, and the men in yellow slowly took control again.
In the 75th minute, a powerful forward display saw Asafo Aumua crash over to draw the scores level before Jordie Barrett sealed victory with his conversion.
Tries: Ngani Laumape, Reed Prinsep, Dane Coles, Asafo Aumua
Conversions: Jordie Barrett (3)
Penalties: J Barrett
Tries: Beauden Barrett, Dalton Papali'i, Akira Ioane, Kurt Eklund
Conversions: B Barrett (2)
Penalties: Otere Black
Chiefs v Highlanders
The Chiefs dominated the first half in such a way that the notion of a Highlanders victory was after 80 minutes was non-existent. The home side managed three tires from Lachlan Boshier, Anton Lienert-Brown and Bradley Slater while the Highlanders only score came from number 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu'u. However, as the teams left the field for half-time, the Chiefs had no idea what lay in wait for them in the second stanza.
The Chiefs struck first after the break – again, through Bradley Slater – but it was to be their last points of the game as the Highlanders began to open up.
With the score at 31-7, the Highlanders created a beautiful phase down the left-hand side which culminated in Mitch Hunt going over in the corner.
Ten minutes later, after brave, attacking displays from the Highlanders, livewire scrumhalf Aaron Smith squeezed over to take the scores to 31-19.
The Highlanders began to exude a spirit to which the Chiefs had no answer and then men from Dunedin dotted down again after great running skills exhibited by Jona Nareki, evolving the score to 31-26 with five minutes to play.
The Chiefs’ worst fears were confirmed when, after the hooter, Aaorn Smith showed great calmness and skill to neatly put centre Sio Tomkinson through a close-range gap to dot down close to the posts. The subsequent Mitch Hunt conversion sealed the victory and capped off a sensational game.
Tries: Lachlan Boshier, Anton Lienert-Brown, Bradley Slater (2)
Conversions: Damian McKenzie (4)
Tries: Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith, Jona Nareki, Sio Tomkinson
Conversions: Mitch Hunt (4)