The Hurricanes of New Zealand are the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby champions after they defeated the Emirates Lions of South Africa 20-3 in the final played on Saturday morning (SA time) at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington. The Canes were 10-3 in front at the halftime break.
Although they failed in their bid to win their first Vodacom Super Rugby crown, the side from the Highveld can be proud of their achievements the past season, which was their best ever showing in the demanding competition. Up to the final match, the Emirates Lions proved to be the most attacking side in the competition and they won many plaudits with their exciting brand of rugby.
On Saturday morning, however, they had to deal with wet and cold conditions, plus a Hurricanes side playing at home and determined to make amends for the disappointment of losing the final last year at the same venue. They also finished as the losing finalists in 2006.
The Emirates Lions had hoped to join three-time winners the Vodacom Bulls as the second South African team to lift the coveted trophy. The Vodacom Bulls won their titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
It was a game where the strongest defending outfit were facing the most attacking side this year, and on a cold and wet evening the defence of the home side prevailed in the end to bring to an end the Emirates Lions’ memorable season.
The side from Wellington stifled the free-running style of their South African opponents with a steely defensive effort, which was characterised by an effective rushed defense.
After having an earlier try disallowed, wing Cory Jane scored the opening try for the Hurricanes when he collected a kick from centre Lionel Mapoe to cross over in the right-hand corner. Flyhalves Beauden Barrett and Elton Jantjies then traded penalties to bring the halftime score to 10-3 in favour of the home side.
The Canes managed to keep the pressure on the Emirates Lions with their tight defense and it was Barrett who pounced on a kick-through from a lineout in the second half to dot down the crucial second try. The canes pivot converted his own try and slotted another successful penalty later to stretch the score to 20-3 and out of the reach of their Highveld opponents.
Post-match reaction from the two captains:
Warren Whiteley, Emirates Lions: “The conditions were tough today, but they were tough for both sides. We didn’t adapt as well as they did and they were smarter than us on the day. They took their two opportunities, which came from our mistakes, and that’s where the score comes from.”
Dane Coles, Hurricanes: “It means a lot to this group. I thought we put in a massive defensive effort. There was also a good balance between having a lot of confidence going into the game and believing in our abilities. We did that well over the 80 minutes.”
Click on the link below to access the match centre for run-of-play information.
Hurricanes – Tries: Cory Jane, Beauden Barrett. Conversions: Barrett (2). Penalties: Barrett (2).
Emirates Lions – Penalty: Elton Jantjies.
Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Jason Woodward, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Loni Uhila. Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Mike Kainga, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Vince Aso, 23 Julian Savea.
Emirates Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnal Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf De Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith. Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Ruan Ackermann, 21 Ross Cronjé, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Jaco van der Walt.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)