– By Kevin McCarthy
Welcome to your consistent Hurricanes team. Week 1, win ugly. Week 2, lose ugly.
Ugly doesn’t quite cut it though for the Christchurch suicide mission. There was a lot of self-harming going on there, none of which would have been the intent.
The intent probably was to see how well the new squad would handle the benchmark and the pressure of facing a champion side, while getting some of those All Black stand-down minutes out of the way. Who knows, it could have panned out differently.
Instead you could script how it did go. The repetition of losing a setpiece or conceding a penalty, a resulting deep kick and lineout, and the inevitably that a try would follow.
The second half rally is what you’d call in the sharemarket, a dead cat bounce. Don’t read too much into it.
Now a lot of fans probably felt a fair dose of anger on Saturday, but it’s way too soon to press that button. Frustration yes that the Hurricanes still struggle to hit the ground running in Super rugby – and admiration that teams like the Crusaders – well, just the Crusaders – seem to kick off like its round 12, not round 2.
The subtext for the coaching team is whether they’re playing the long game, and since there was only a very outside chance of winning in Christchurch, then no great harm done. Or was there. We’ll find out.
That does mean we’re already realistically playing for second in the New Zealand conference? Well, that’s where the betting money will already be sitting.
Which makes the Brumbies matchup this weekend very big. They’re gung ho, having come off crushing the struggling Chefs. The Canes have made all the right sounds about being angry about the last match – but we’ll find out what that means on Friday.
Another ugly result? Let’s hope not.
As for the other Kiwi sides? Well, what about them Highlanders. Pipping the Reds at home possibly not a cause for great celebration on reflection, but a W is a W. And perhaps people should lay off the Blues at this stage – they pushed the Crusaders, and then had the challenge of flying half way round the world.
I’m really enjoying the Six Nations and the various hot takes on what it all means.
England funnily enough found out that their plan for world domination was relatively easy to blunt, and as in the past, they don’t have a plan B. Doesn’t mean they’re not formidable on their day, but the sunlit uplands are still elusive.
Wales are building a formidable streak but in your hearts, do you see them as World Cup contenders? Well, why not. In 2011, they should have made the final and could of despite playing France with 14 men for much of the game.
Ireland have the yips. Isn’t it strange? But better for them to find out now than in six months time. The pressure that the All Blacks live with all the time is a real thing. It’s a bit late for the Irish however to adopt the old personae of plucky underdogs; expect them to be much better in Japan.
France are all over the shop, meaning they could be highly lethal to someone’s chances at the RWC.
Scotland are probably saving their best for a visit to Twickenham. And Italy are taking part so that it adds up to Six Nations.
Hurricanes team news versus Brumbies
There are seven changes to the Hurricanes team that played the Crusaders last week for Friday’s clash in Palmerston North, kick-off 7.35pm. Some big guns return, while Hutt Old Boys Marist’s Chase Tiatia makes his debut at fullback.
The Hurricanes squad to face the Brumbies is:
15 Chase Tiatia
14 Vince Aso
13 Matt Proctor
12 Ngani Laumape
11 Ben Lam
10 Beauden Barrett
9 TJ Perenara
8 Ardie Savea
7 Du’Plessis Kirifi
6 Vaea Fifita
5 Liam Mitchell
4 James Blackwell
3 Ben May
2 Dane Coles (c)
1 Chris Eves
16 Ricky Riccitelli
17 Xavier Numia
18 Jeff To’omaga-Allen
19 Isaia Walker-Leawere
20 Reed Prinsep
21 Richard Judd
22 Jackson Garden-Bachop
23 Wes Goosen
Flashback – Hurricanes v Brumbies 2007
The Hurricanes and the Horsemen have contested several seat-filling clashes over the years. Christian Cullen was their tormentor in the early years of Super 12, but their clash in 2007 was an epic.
The Hurricanes – Brumbies match in 2007 came down to the last play of the game, No. 8 Thomas Waldrom the hero in scoring the match-winning try in the corner in the 80th minute.
Waldrom’s try brought the Westpac Stadium crowd to its feet as the Hurricanes overhauled a 6-10 deficit for a death-knock win. With the fulltime hooter ringing in everyone’s ears, the Hurricanes attacked for one last time from inside their own half. Surging forward towards the line, replacement flanker Hayden Hopgood offloaded a deft pass in the tackle to Waldrom in support on his shoulder. Waldrom then pinned his ears back and charged for the corner for the decisive score.The supercharged finish capped off a contest of few opportunities, Hurricanes first five-eighth Jimmy Gopperth only able to bang over two penalties in reply to the Brumbies’ one converted try and penalty.
The Hurricanes also had two other one-point wins in 2007. Against the Blues, Gopperth’s 58th minute penalty gave the Hurricanes a 23-22 lead, which they held for the final 22 minutes of brutal action. In the last match of the year, fans were on the edge of their seats when Highlanders and All Blacks first five-eighth Nick Evans lined up a conversion attempt that would have given his side victory on fulltime. But his kick sailed wide and the Hurricanes held on for a 22-21 win.
Below are teams from the 11-10 win in 2007: