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Hurricanes swamp Blues

allblacks.com

Friday, February 10, 2006    Sportal    allblacks.com

Four tries in 12 minutes to second five-eighths Tana Umaga, his positional replacement Ma'a Nonu, flanker Jerry Collins and Lome Fa'atau, who scored his second, sank the Blues, who before the rain, had been looking to take the ascendancy.

It was a second successive win in Auckland for the Hurricanes, who in the first nine years of the Super 12 never won in the Queen City.

A Hurricanes scrum which had been struggling suddenly revived and set in train a remarkable turnaround which unleashed the power of its hard-running backs and also the skills of Collins, who was an outstanding influence in the outcome.

The Blues led 16-3 at half-time, after a first half containing some free-flowing, running assaults from both backlines in front of 35,200 fans.

Initially, it was the Blues who found the greater penetration, courtesy of a 28th minute break by first five-eighths Tasesa Lavea.

He found space after a Blues lineout drive and linked with centre Ben Atiga, who crashed over beside the posts for the only try of the first half.

Second five-eighths Luke McAlister, who landed three penalty goals, and another in the second half, also found holes in the Hurricanes defences but as was the case with several Hurricanes incisions they broke down at crucial stages.

Early on, his opposite Umaga ran freely and hard at the defences and while getting through he wasn't able to link with his support.

Flanker Chris Masoe featured with some charging runs, but once the Blues forwards began to find their drive and cohesion, especially from lineouts, there was a more assured look to the home team's play.

The Hurricanes started the second half with a hiss and roar. A Blues scrum drove them back but the Hurricanes recovered and from the resulting play, the ball was spun with fullback Isaia Toeava slipping a lovely reverse pass to wing Fa'atau who scored wide out.

Then the rain arrived and it hit the Blues hard. Handling mistakes abounded and the earlier cohesion evaporated.

After 56 minutes, an impressive piece of interplay between Umaga, Fa'atau and Toeava, resulted in a try for the former All Blacks captain which was converted by Jimmy Gopperth to level the scores.

Umaga was replaced immediately with Nonu moving to second five-eighths and he made an immediate impact when from a powerful bust through the mid-field to score beneath the posts.

The Blues were unlucky to lose replacement halfback Steve Devine almost immediately after he joined the action. He was covering a downfield kick and had the misfortune to be tackled by Hurricanes hard man flanker Collins and had to leave the field.

Collins became a key man when soon after standing in the backline he placed a perfect kick 50m downfield and into touch. Lock Jason Eaton then claimed the lineout and the ball was moved with Nonu again making ground. When tackled, Collins was right on hand to pick up the ball and dive across on the blindside.

From a ruck on halfway, halfback John Senio was caught by Masoe, who claimed the dropped ball, raced into open territory and fed Fa'atau in for the easiest of tries.

David Holwell kicked the conversion and landed a late penalty goal.

Hurricanes 37 (Fa'atau 2, Umaga, Nonu, Collins tries; Gopperth 2con, pen; Holwell con, pen) Blues 19 (Atiga try; McAlister con, 4 pen) HT: 3-16