Hurricanes blow Blues away
Friday, May 1, 2009 Sportal.co.nz Getty Images
But as has been the case throughout the season it wasn't the Blues try-scoring ability that counted against them.
In fact, it was the Blues who enjoyed greater possession and territory but they could not break through the solid Hurricanes defence, despite the best efforts of Rene Ranger who had an outstanding match on the right wing for the visitors.
The Hurricanes, not surprisingly given the Blues' injury crisis in the loose forwards - and the news was worsened with lock Ali Williams' early departure with a leg injury - had the better of the breakdown exchanges, although the home side was warned on several occasions by referee Chris Pollock for slowing the ball down.
But given the quality of the two backlines on show it was no surprise that both sides were more intent on keeping the ball in hand than putting boot to ball and it made for an entertaining encounter.
There were two tries each for Ma'a Nonu and Tamati Ellison after early tries for Conrad Smith and Scott Waldrom and Willie Ripia had another superb night with the boot converting all the tries and adding a late penalty goal.
The Blues picked up a bonus point with tries for Joe Rokocoko, Anthony Tuitavake, Ranger and replacement Dean Budd.
It was an action-packed first half with seven tries scored in all as both teams looked to keep the ball in hand.
The gathering of the ball from the re-start was poor and led directly to tries for Rokocoko and Nonu within two minutes of each other.
Ellison, who did not reappear after the break, was a livewire and fully deserved his two tries. He regathered his own kick from deep inside his side’s half for his first on 17 minutes.
A little over 10 minutes later he was bursting through the tackle of Tevita Mailau and dragging Keven Mealamu with him as he crossed the line for his second.
But it was Conrad Smith who was first over the whitewash for the Hurricanes after Jimmy Gopperth - to a cacophony of boos at his old home ground - had slotted the opening penalty goal in the first minute.
Patient build-up from the forwards got the home side close to the Blues line and when the ball was spun wide Smith ran a beautiful line to go in by the posts.
On 13 minutes Waldrom scooted over after Andrew Hore produced a superb offload in the tackle to Ripia who fed David Smith. He drew Rudi Wulf at fullback to leave the way clear for Waldrom.
Ellison was next to dot down before the Blues got in on the action with a try in the corner for Rokocoko.
Jason Eaton failed to gather the re-start and when the ball went wide Wulf got between Conrad Smith and Hore before Isaia Toeava fed the try-scoring pass to his All Blacks team-mate.
Nonu scored immediately from the re-start after another failed kick-receipt by Jay Williams put the Blues under pressure and Nonu charged through a gap to wrap up the bonus point.
Another individual effort by Ellison got the Hurricanes their fifth of night to take them out to 35-8.
But the Blues responded strongly in the final 10 minutes with Ranger just held up over the line then Tuitavake shrugging off the tackle of David Smith and beating Nonu to the corner to score.
The frantic pace continued in the second half with the Blues actually out-scoring the Hurricanes two tries to one.
Two minutes after the break Ranger went over the in corner after a great line break by Toeava. Ranger still had a bit of work to do but got past Nonu and then bounced off David Smith to score.
Nonu showed all his power to score his second on 59 minutes but it was the Blues who had the final say with Budd going over on the stroke of full-time to claim the visitors 11th bonus point of the season.
Hurricanes 45 (Conrad Smith, Scott Waldrom, Tamati Ellison (2), Ma'a Nonu 2 tries; Willie Ripia 6 con, pen) Blues 27 (Joe Rokocoko, Anthony Tuitavake, Rene Ranger, Dean Budd tries; Gopperth 2 con, pen). HT: 35-13
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