'CANES stake finals with Warratah thrashing
Super 12: Hurricanes v Warratahs, Rugby Park New Plymouth
A FULL eighty minute effort highlighted by a sensational last fifteen saw the Hurricanes wow a packed Rugby Park with four exhillarating tries Friday to earn a valuable bonus point which capped off an extremely impressive 41-17 thrashing of a strong Warratah squad.
Coached by the evergreen and always shrewd Bob Dwyer and skippered by champion Wallaby fullback Matt Burke the Warratahs were expected to offer tough resistance in a match touted by pundits as a must win for both sides eager to make the final four.
And despite having the parochial Rugby Park masses in full throat urging their favourite sons on from the sidelines the Hurricanes looked far from impressive in the first forty.
Dogged by mistakes, a lack of flow and a failure to achieve a dominant momentum up front the Gordon Slater led home side appeared to struggle and found themselves trailing 7-3 after 22 minutes when compative midfielder Nathan Gray scythed through a gap and put a rolling kick forward which eluded a confused Hurricane defence and sat up for Warratah centre Luke Inman to dive on for the opening try.
A further Gray penalty was matched by two more David Holwel three pointers which allowed the 'Canes to trail only 10-9 at the break despite playing poorly.
The halftime lecture must have been a revelation for the Hurricanes as they entered the second period playing with precision and vigour.
This new found determination was rewarded when, giving up a sure three points, the Hurricanes decided to tap and run and Daryl Lilley was in the for a try.
Lilly's conversion and another Holwel penalty took the score to 22-10 after 60 minutes and with the Hurricanes obviously upping the pace - instead of fading as they have in previous games - the pressure was beginning to show among the New South Welshmen.
And when following another Holwel penalty the normally so reliable Burke failed to make 10 metres from a kick-off for an incredible fourth time it became very apparent that the Warratahs were vulnerable.
Chasing a crucial bonus point and sensing an opponent failing to find form the Hurricanes launch a frenzied attack and when a loose ball was bungled by at least three different Warratahs in keystone-kop-rugby allowing Lilley to notch his second try in the 66th minute the crowd sensed two more tries were possible.
The brilliant Christian Cullen proved his worth by setting up the next try when his pin-point kick, placed when he ran into space after a long series of Hurricanes attacks, was picked up by Jason O'Halloran who touched down.
This third try was in the 73rd minute and the Hurricanes charged back up field from the restart with seven minutes to score.
Attack at all costs can sometimes be painful and the 'Canes were punished when Inman scored his second try but this taint was soon forgotten as the home team surged forward and with seconds remaining on the clock flanker Brent Thompson burst clear and passed to Cullen who scorced in to seal the game by dotting down the crucial fourth try that earned a bonus point to go with a vital 42-17 victory.