Sky Super Rugby Transtasman: Hurricanes fail to flatter in win over Rebels

Hurricanes 35
Rebels 13

Two comfortable bonus-point victories and, yet, the Hurricanes’ unconvincing start to their transtasman campaign continues.

One week after scoring 11 tries in their bizarre 64-48 win over the winless Waratahs in Sydney, the Hurricanes produced another enigmatic performance to repel the Rebels in Wellington on Friday night where the scoreline did not reflect the match.

The Hurricanes had moments of quality unstructured attack, slick offloads in the wide channels where left wing Wes Goosen featured prominently and they scored five tries.

Too often, though, those fleeting bright patches were interspersed with frustrating passages of sloppy errors and an inability to build phases – often looking their best from counter attack and turnovers.

Despite banking two wins and 10 competition points, the worry for the Hurricanes is they have now played the two worst Australian teams and looked decidedly average at times in doing so.

Julian Savea scored a double to claim his 55th try for the Hurricanes and sit one behind the team’s record jointly held by Christian Cullen and TJ Perenara. Asafo Aumua, Billy Proctor, Goosen and Asafo Aumua also crossed but Hurricanes coach Jason Holland will have a long list of improvements to target in the coming weeks after a low-class affair.

On the basis of this evidence, no one would come close to suggesting the Hurricanes are genuine title contenders.

The Hurricanes were often guilty over overcomplicating their attacking platforms and making basic errors to stunt momentum – several errors at the back of attempted lineout mauls proved especially frustrating. Ngani Laumape was a constant threat through the middle of the park, but the Hurricanes often went away from him.

After trailing 14-3 at halftime the Rebels claimed two second-half tries – their first in the competition – to blindside Michael Wells and centre Campbell Magnay.

While their defence and scrum, demolished by the Blues last week, was vastly improved, the Rebels won’t be expected to challenge any of the Kiwi teams in their three remaining matches.

The Hurricanes dominated the first half but largely failed to convert pressure into points. The locals turned down four shots at goal in the opening 15 minutes to launch a series of lineout drives that ultimately proved futile.

After being embarrassed in their 50-3 defeat in Melbourne by the Blues last week, the Rebels defence was much more resolute. Their line speed in the midfield forced the Hurricanes into rushed decision-making and a lack of patience on attack.

Only when Rebels tighthead prop Cabous Eloff was yellow carded for repeat team infringements did the Hurricanes finally capitalise, scoring two converted tries with their one-man advantage.

Savea, earlier taken into touch in the corner, snaffled an intercept to sprint 40 metres for the opening try and Proctor bagged the Hurricanes’ second after a typically powerful bust and offload from French-bound second five-eighth Laumape.

Part of the issue for the Hurricanes was their lack of urgency and effectiveness in cleaning rucks which squandered breaks by conceding breakdown turnovers or penalties.

The Hurricanes will take the points and move on but tougher tests in the form of the Brumbies and Reds await and against the Super Rugby AU finalists, they will need to be much better than this performance.

Hurricanes 35 (Julian Savea 2, Billy Proctor, Wes Goosen, Asafo Aumua tries; Jordie Barrett 4 cons, Orbyn Leger con)
Rebels 13 (Michael Wells, Campbell Magnay tries; Matt To’omua pen)
HT: 14-3

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