Promise fulfilled and early title favouritism delivered. The Hurricanes blew away the Brumbies, who may have had injuries, but were still top four hopes and had in their team the two premier Australian Test players – Wallaby captain Stirling Mortlock and George Smith.
If indeed the Hurricanes were a tropical cyclone, they were blowing a category five.
Five times so far this season, the 50 point mark has been breached by various teams. Twice, when the Bulls and the Chiefs achieved it, they conceded four tries. The other three times, it has been against one of the bottom three teams.
Outside of these, there has been large margins inflicted, the biggest being a 38 point margin (Stormers 56-18 Lions). All of these margins – 25+ points - had either been against bottom three teams or the winning team themselves had conceded at least four tries.
Essentially, this was the biggest margin and the most emphatic victory so far this year.
While the Brumbies had injuries, they still had seven Wallabies in their playing 22, and a further six players who had Australia “A” caps. In Mortlock and Smith, they not only had two men who have worn the captaincy armband for the Australian Test team, but two players who had over 200 Brumbies caps and over 150 Wallaby appearances.
They were, and still are, in a position to make the semi-finals (but would need to beat the Reds, Blues and Chiefs in their final weeks).
Arguably, no side in the world could have halted the Hurricanes in this mood.
In the first five minutes, the Brumbies got the start they required in enemy territory. A converted try to initiate scoring, and even with a Willie Ripia penalty, it was 7-3 to the Brumbies after ten minutes.
It was here that the storm cells merged!
In the next 19 minutes, the Hurricanes scored four tries to register a bonus point, and effectively the victory. Coming into half time, the game was won with a 25-7 scoreboard.
In the second half, it was even more impressive. In the 60th minute, the Hurricanes scored their fifth try, to signal an 18 minute burst where they would score a further 28 points. Most notable this occurred while Coach Colin Cooper emptied his bench, even reserve players didn’t stop the storm.
Ironically, before the match, the Brumbies had spoken that they had spent the week enhancing their defensive systems.
For the Canes, there was not a bad player or a poor aspect of their game. Even their lineout and kicking game, the weaker aspects of their traditional play, looked the goods.
But their hallmark traits, their remarkable offensive style, looked truly impressive.
Their scrum pushed back a Brumbies pack with four Wallabies at will. At the ruck, the ACT side looked limited, even with one of the world’s great flankers in Smith contesting the ball. Ten times the visitors conceded turnover ball at the ruck.
It was though the running game of the Hurricanes that looked all powerful. Line breaks and offloads came at will. The most startling statistic is that every time the Wellington based team ran the ball, the game average was six metres made for every run.
While the other teams in the Super 14 have been put on notice, the only aspect that will now concern the Hurricanes faithful is their consistency.
But it would be hard not to get excited, on the evidence of their all consuming display at the Cake Tin. The victory moved the Hurricanes to the top of the table (notwithstanding the rest of the rounds results) and gave them 37 tries scored for championship and a +82 points difference; one point less than the Chiefs and nearly double better than any other side in the Super 14.
Considering 40 points pretty much guarantees a semi-final position, the Canes only need 6 tournament points from their remaining three matches where there are 15 up for grabs.
They play the Blues, Chiefs and Reds to close the season, the other three teams in the top four of running and attacking statistics for the season.
Tries: Guildford (2), Jane, D Smith, Ellison, Levave, Vito, C Smith
Con: Ripia 5/8
Pen: Ripia 2/2
Con: Mortlock 1/1
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