'Canes beat Rebels to remain perfect

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27 Mar 2015
'Canes beat Rebels to remain perfect

Extending their record to six wins from six games, the Hurricanes defence sealed a 36-12 win over the Rebels on Friday.

Resting big stars Beauden Barrett and Julian Savea, the Hurricanes took a while to get going in Wellington and were kept under pressure throughout by the Rebels until late in the second half.

A touch cynical at times in the way they held on under a second-half barrage from their visitors and operated at the breakdown, the Hurricanes got the job done and added another win to their tally for the year with a scoreline that didn't fully reflect the narrowness of the contest as a late double from replacement Nehe Milner-Skudder wrapped up the try bonus point.

Their chances to score tries might have been fewer than in recent weeks but when they arose, the Hurricanes were ruthless.

Five tries from the hosts proved to be the difference, with TJ Perenara grabbing his 23rd score on his 50th appearance as he hunts down the record number of tries for a half-back held by Sarel Pretorius.

Perenara's try came at the end of some fine handling from the Hurricanes, with Ma'a Nonu involved and Victor Vito supplying the final ball inside as the hosts exploited a four-on-one overlap.

Jason Woodward was handed the kicking duties for the home side in the absence of Barrett. Coincidentally the Rebels' record points scorer, Woodward was facing his old club for the first time and after an early miss with a penalty found his range with some fine strikes.

Woodward converted Perenara's opening try to give the Hurricanes a 7-3 lead after the Rebels had lost experienced tighthead Laurie Weeks to injury early on.

When the Rebels did attack they showed great patience with the ball in hand but more than that was required really against a Hurricanes outfit that has conceded few tries this season.

Indiscipline at the ruck however from the home side consistently allowed Mike Harris to have attempts at the posts, with the Hurricanes penalised for going off their feet and hands in the ruck on separate occasions.

The last effort cancelled out Woodward's first penalty to give the Rebels a surprise 12-10 advantage going into half-time.

Cory Jane's try after the break gave the home side the lead once more, with the All Blacks winger finishing off a long phase of attacks in the corner, but the Australian visitors stayed in the contest thanks to plenty of possession and territory.

Each time they reached the Hurricanes' 22 though the crucial turnover came and in the end it had a damaging effect, with Callum Gibbins scoring his first try for the side following a kick-chase with Sefanaia Naivalu under pressure spilling the ball in the tackle and the 'Canes chasing up to gather and score their third try.

That could have knocked the confidence out of the Rebels but they never gave up, launching another assault on the Hurricanes line on 60 minutes.

Multiple attacks and penalties passed, including a disallowed try for Mitch Inman, before at last the Hurricanes were shown a yellow card after Perenara stuck his arm through the ruck to slap the ball out of Nic Stirzaker's hands.

Even against 14 men and with a dominant scrum five-metres out however, the Rebels just couldn't find a way over the line as they were once more turned over.

Radike Samo made a welcome return to Super Rugby at 38 when he came off the bench for the away side but the Hurricanes by that stage were back on the attack and searching for a bonus point try.

The quick feet of Milner-Skudder wrapped it up, as the youngster skipped his way through a stretched defence out wide and he had a second after the hooter as quick hands from Perenara set him up for a finish in the corner.

His efforts gave the Hurricanes all five points on the table and maintain their lead at the top of the New Zealand Conference.