BRUMBIES HORSE-WHIPPED BY HURRICANES
SUPER 12 rugby HURRICANES v BRUMBIES
A CAPACITY crowd was stirred to a passionate standing ovation of roaring adulation by 40 minutes of pure rugby magic Friday night when the Hurricanes played fabulous football to fashion a 20 point halftime lead that was the foundation for an emphatic 34-19 victory over the form ACT Brumbies.
Desperate for a victory to maintain their semi-finals campaign the hometown Hurricanes ensured WestpacTrust Stadium rocked with screaming local support by starting the game with confidence and pace.
Flowing with the momentum sparked by last week's win over the champion Crusaders the Hurricanes surged onto attack from the opening whistle. Seemingly stunned by the early onslaught the Brumbies were sucked into a Jonah Lomu dummy run that allowed Brad Fleming the room to get outside his man and put Christian Cullen away on a blistering run to line for the game's first try. YES "Cully'' is back on the full revs - no doubt about it.
Eager to reply with points the Brumbies steamed back onto attack but frustrated by relentess defence they lost the ball which was quicky spun wide to the quick-thinking Paul Steinmetz, who inside his own 22 and with a three on two situation chip kicks - to the groans from a crowd seeing the overlap. But the inside centres instinct proved right as the human locomotive Lomu sped onto the bounce to charge 60 metres for a spectacular five pointer.
Another 10 minutes was then spent digging deep by the 'Canes' who through sheer desperation repulsed wave after wave of Brumbie attack to hold them scoreless to close the half leading 20-0 courtesy of two additional penalties to flyhalf David Holwel.
Spurred on by a delirious crowd the Hurricanes maintained the edge in the opening salvo of the second half and were rewarded when Holwel darted over for superb try in the 14th minutes. The talented No 10's added conversion sent the score to 27-0 and even with 30 minutes remaining it appeared unlikley the Brumbies challege would fail.
The Aussies did respond with a Mark Batholomeuz try but minutes later the Hurricanes replyed in epic style when Lomu stampeded upfield through the hapless tackles of six Brumbies before popping the perfect pass for Jason Spice to run onto and over for one of the best tries of 2001.
With a bonus point earned the Hurricanes may have relaxed and the determined Brumbies revealed character to score two late tries that saw them retain dignity in suffering a 34-19 defeat.
In analysing such a complete performance against world-class opponents it is diffucult to select individuals from a total squad effort. However while the highlights packages will reveal the magnificence of Lomu, Cullen and Tana Umaga; the ever-imroving rare talent of Fleming and the emergence of Steinmetz as genuine midfielder of international class it is false to assume these outsides were the reason for Friday's success.
As the Brumbies will agree the Hurricanes victory was built on the hard work of a dominant pack that was based on a rugged front five who overpowered their opponents and allowed the loose trio - containing certain All Black and man-of-the-match Jerry Collins - to flourish.
This loose trio of the outstanding Collins; human battering ram Filo Tiatia; and the extremely exciting Brent Thompson ( who pulled off a blinder after being bagged for not having the pace to compete with Brumbies breakaway George Smith) paved the way for such a convincing win by securing turnovers, linking with the outsides and defending with crashing authority.