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Tana Commander-in-Chief

Fotopress

Friday, April 1, 2005    allblacks.com    Fotopress

And the All Blacks Captain wasn’t alone. After faltering in recent weeks, Westpac Stadium witnessed a far more passionate performance from both franchises... albeit one that still left the Chiefs languishing at the bottom of the table.

The Hurricanes scored three tries to one to secure their 5th win of the Super 12 season. But despite both backlines having the kind of pace fixed speed cameras dream about - the majority of those points were supplied by the respective boots of first-fives Jimmy Gopperth and David Hill.

And maybe they’re no longer super-sizing Happy meals in Hamilton. Certainly, the Chiefs proved the hungrier side early, owning the first promising movement of the match as No 9 Byron Kelleher sniped his way into the Hurricanes half and (part-time) fullback Sitiveni Sivivatu was dragged down 3m short.

The visitors sustained the pressure, foregoing two kickable penalties before Hill stepped off his left foot in the 9th minute and crossed over in the tackle of Ma'a Nonu. He couldn’t keep his feet on a surface still greasy from midweek downpours, yet nailed the conversion anyway.

7-0 Chiefs.

They were almost in again after the Hurricanes failed to secure ruck-ball and centre Mark Ranby straightened the resulting overlap. In fact, Jono Gibbes and his men finished the first quarter of the match with a staggering 88% territorial domination. Only the lineout appeared a weak link.

It was left to last week’s dropkick hero Gopperth to finally put the Hurricanes on the board with a 32nd minute penalty.

Against the run of play, they added a try after Umaga delivered a bone-crushing tackle and Gopperth gratefully collected the turnover... putting in a centre kick from the lefthand touchline. Out of the chasers, Piri Weepu was the first there. The conversion gave the homeside a 10-7 lead with a minute remaining. Enough time for No 8 Rodney So'oialo to get pinged for offside, and Hill’s equaliser to be the final act of the first 40.

Halftime score: 10-all.

A second Gopperth penalty handed the Hurricanes the lead five minutes into the second period.

Tellingly, half-breaks from Hurricanes centre Conrad Smith and Umaga began to do more than square the stats - lending their side badly-needed momentum. After several long periods on attack, the ball went to ground, where Hurricanes fullback Shannon Paku did more than tidy up. He stepped his way inside the Chiefs 22 as Smith arrived in support to cross under the bar.

20-10 Hurricanes.

Hill responded with his second penalty. Then came the dreaded ‘Canes coma’, the locals seemingly falling asleep as the match entered its crucial final quarter. The result was entirely predictable: Hill’s third penalty. Three points that (at 20-16) lifted the Chiefs within five of snatching a win.

But it was not to be. First a 42m effort from Gopperth restored the seven point margin, then that man Umaga pounced on a poor Kelleher pass and chugged the full 55m to the line (despite the attention of Sivivatu) to seal the win, setting up an enthralling clash with table-toppers the Waratahs next week.

Final Score: 28-16 Hurricanes.

Scorers


Hurricanes. Tries: Piri Weepu, Conrad Smith, Tana Umaga. Conversions: Jimmy Gopperth (2). Penalties: Gopperth (3).

Chiefs. Tries: David Hill. Conversions. David Hill. Penalties: Hill (3)

Read the matches the matter. First on allblacks.com