The Hurricanes and Blues split their matches this weekend one apiece, with the Hurricanes U20s pipping the Blues U20s on Friday and the Blues senior side beating the Hurricanes on Saturday at their match at the Tui Brewery.
Blues (38) v Hurricanes (31)
The Blues have successfully defended the Great Big Tui Cup, defeating the fast-finishing Hurricanes 38-31 in front of a bumper crowd in Mangatainoka
The Hurricanes started briskly and scored the opening two tries. The rolling maul was an effective avenue of attack for the Hurricane and lock James Blackwell crashed over for the first try. Ben Lam received the kick-off and scored from a length of the field bust as the Hurricanes went up 14-0.
The Blues fought back and former Hurricane and hooker Leni Apisai scored the first try from a lineout drive. Just before halftime on the back of several straight penalties impressive No. 8 Hoskins Sotutu dived over to score from a scrum to make it 14-14 at halftime.
The Blues struck three times early in the second half. There was a popular try scored by Miramar marauder Ma’a Nonu after a break by wing Etene Nanai. Pivot Harry Plummer scored next and Melani Nanai scored again for the visitors to put them ahead 33-14.
The Hurricanes hit back with a try to Asafo Aumua but the Blues scored again through Nanai to push their lead out to 38-19
Hurricanes prop/lock Ben May scored a try for the Hurricanes, followed by his Old Boys University teammate Wes Goosen scoring again, supporting a maul, to make the final score 38-31.
For the Hurricanes, halfback Finlay Christie played well, as did Goosen. The battle between the Hurricanes back-up first five-eighths Jackson Garden-Bachop and Fletcher Smith was also a talking point from the contest.
This was the eighth meeting for the Great Big Tui Cup, with the Blues now ahead 5-3 on the ledger.
Next weekend the Hurricanes play the Waratahs in Sydney in the competition opener while the Blues meet the Crusaders.
Blues 38 (Melani Nanai 2, Leni Apisai, Hoskins Sotutu, Ma’a Nonu, Harry Plummer tries; Otere Black 3 con Stephen Perofeta con) Hurricanes 31 (James Blackwell, Ben Lam, Asafo Aumua, Ben May, Wes Goosen tries; Fletcher Smith 2 con, Jackson Garden-Bachop con) . HT: 14-14
Hurricanes U20s (38) v Blues U20s (37)
The Hurricanes U20s pipped the Blues U20s 38-37 on Friday afternoon at a hot and bothersome Sport & Rugby Institute in Palmerston North.
The junior Hurricanes side could count themselves fortunate to win this one, after leaping to a big lead and then being run down and facing a two-try deficit heading into the final 20 minutes.
After conceding the game’s opening four tries to be seemingly on the canvas at 3-26 down, the Blues came back to score the next 34 points and take a 37-26 lead into the final 10 minutes.
How did this happen?
The Hurricanes tight five blasted out of the blocks and took the game to the Blues over the first quarter and well into the second block of 20 minutes.
All three starting front rowers, props Xavier Numia and Pasi Uluilakepa and hooker Kianu Kereru-Symes, climbed into their work early. Lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi and captain and No. 8 Devan Flanders both showcased their workhouse qualities.
Ah Kuoi, Kereru-Symes and Flanders would score three of the first four Hurricanes tries, all through forwards drives. The fourth saw Flanders’ former Hastings BHS teammate and pivot Lincoln McClutchie getting in on the act by placing a pin-point cross-kick to waiting left wing three-quarter Reuben Va’a to collect and score off.
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The Hurricanes U20s beat the Blues U20s 38-37 on Friday afternoon. The Hurricanes side leapt to a big advantage but the Blues came back to take the lead later in the second half. The Hurricanes rallied and scored the #winning try with a few minutes to play. Some footage here of their first and last tries – both close-quarter strikes by the #forwards. @naitoa_prvt of @msprugby and then Tane Te Aho with the winner.
After kicking an earlier penalty, the Blues followed suit with a forwards try themselves, loosehead prop Leon Thambiran coming up with the ball from the bottom of the ruck to make it 26-10.
The Blues swung back on to attack and halfback and captain Brad McNaughten scored on the stroke of halftime to close the gap to 26-17 to at the break.
The Blues carried this momentum into the second half, scoring three more tries and moving ahead 34-26. The first followed a break and kick ahead by bustling centre Lemeki Namoa for left wing Heremaia Murray to score off. The second was scored through the forwards again following a turnover in general play by openside flanker Tamarau McGahan and the third was scored by Murray again after a shortside bust and pass out to the left winger by first five-eighth Zarn Sullivan.
Sullivan kicked a penalty to extend the lead to 11 points at the end of the third quarter.
Needing to score next, the Hurricanes used width from a lineout 30 metres out and lock Ah Kuoi soon crossed on the opposite side of the field for this second try of the match. Local pivot Stewart Cruden converted to make it 37-33 to the Blues.
The Hurricanes put themselves straight back on to attack. Unlike earlier in the match, the Blues held firm against several forays at the whitewash. But they couldn’t prevent replacement hooker Tane Te Aho coming up with the winning try from another forwards drive.
There was still time to play and the Blues went close to scoring following another break by lively centre Namoa who couldn’t quite link up with wing Jack Gray. The Hurricanes turned the ball near their line and booted the ball to touch as the fulltime whistle sounded.
Photos of the Hurricanes v Blues U20 match HERE