The Lions’ declining Super Rugby playoff hopes took another step in the wrong direction when the clinical Hurricanes comprehensively outplayed them, scoring a commanding 37-17 victory at Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon.
As the halftime score suggested, there was little to choose between the sides in the first half, with one try being scored each way.
However, the Hurricanes’ experienced captain and scrumhalf TJ Perenara should be commended for his game management as he kept the Lions in their own half with some excellent tactical kicking.
Nonetheless, the hosts were good value in the first half, not compromising on their attacking approach and generally giving their opponents a lot of trouble. Wing Aphiwe Dyantyi was a menace and was rewarded with a brace of tries.
But the 17 turnovers they conceded proved a killer to their hopes as the ‘Canes came roaring back, particularly showing the gulf in finishing ability.
Who was the star in this match?
While some Lions players like centre Lionel Mapoe and lock Marvin Orie were impressive, our award has to go to Perenara, who used his vast experienced to great effect. He varied his team’s attacking options and kept the Lions on the backfoot.
Key moments and themes
- Two Hurricanes replacements – flank Ardie Savea and hooker Dane Coles – had a massive impact on proceedings after the break. They led the way in outmuscling the Lions at the breakdown and allowed their team to take the game by the scruff of the neck. The offensive tackling denied the Lions any momentum on the scoreboard.
- It’s small moments though that really prove the difference. The Hurricanes turned the game on it’s head with two tries inside the first 10 minutes of the second half to suddenly go ahead 25-10. Wing Ben Lam was the beneficiary of both, the first from a poor catch at the first kickoff after the turnaround and then in the 48th minute, when the Lions’ defence was stretched out wide.
- Both teams suffered big setbacks. The Hurricanes lost flyhalf Beauden Barrett before kickoff to an injury. Not that the hosts were left unscathed. In the 25th minute, the Lions lost arguably their best player in flank Kwagga Smith to a hamstring injury, at a stage when the Lions were threatening to score.
- The Lions will once again have to address their game management. It now seems that they won’t ever really divert from their attacking, expansive style, but it will need to be implemented more pragmatically in some or other way. Otherwise, slumps like this will become commonplace when they’re put under pressure.
Hurricanes – Tries: Ben Lam (2), Dane Coles (2), Ngani Laumape. Conversions: Jordie Barrett (3). Penalties: Barrett (2).
Lions – Tries: Aphiwe Dyantyi (2). Conversions: Shaun Reynolds (2). Penalty: Reynolds.