Late tries flatter Hurricanes

Getty Images     31 Mar 2013     Getty Images

The South Africans were a much-improved side from the one thrashed by the Crusaders last week and were right in the contest until late in the game despite what the six-tries-to-three score suggested.

The Hurricanes led 29-16 at the break after wrapping up the four-try bonus point thanks to tries for Ben May, Conrad Smith, TJ Perenara and Jeremy Thrush.

But the second half was a scrappy arm-wrestle and it wasn't until Shields crossed in the 65th minute that the game swung in the Hurricanes' favour. Only when Alapati Leiua scored his second intercept try in two matches with seven minutes to go was the result put beyond doubt.

The Kings fully deserved their three tries. Lock Steven Sykes scored in the first half. Ronnie Cooke's five-pointer early in the second half upped the pressure on the Hurricanes while replacement Hannes Franklin dived over for a consolation in the closing minutes.

Although the Hurricanes racked up the tries in the first half they were never fully able to shake off the hard-working visitors.

Mark Hammett's side got off to the perfect start when May claimed his first ever Super Rugby try just three minutes into the match.

A lovely wrap around move between Beauden Barrett and Smith opened up space for Julian Savea and when he was hauled down the ball popped up to May who showed a good turn of speed and a nice step to break his Super Rugby duck.

It was a rare moment of space for Savea who was well marshalled by the Kings defence.

Barrett extended the lead with a penalty before Sykes took everyone by surprise by coasting over for the Kings' try when he ran straight past May defending one-off a ruck. Demetri Catrakilis' conversion reduced the gap to just three points.

For much of the first half Barrett opted to kick rather than run the ball out of the Hurricanes' own territory as they looked to play rugby in the right half of the field.

The tactic earned them a scrum inside the Kings' 22 and from the solid set-piece Smith finished off a nice backline attack for the Hurricanes' second try in the 20th minute.

The final pass from Tim Bateman was a beauty which floated to Smith out on the left wing and allowed him to get around Sergeal Petersen to score.

May then gave away two penalties in quick succession – being in front of the kicker and then a late tackle on Catrakilis – which allowed the Kings to remain within touching distance thanks to the boot of their first-five.

But another well-worked wrap around move by the Hurricanes eventually resulted in a try for Perenara before Thrush powered his way over on the stroke of half-time to cancel out another Catrakilis penalty.

The arm-wrestle continued into the second half with the Hurricanes struggling to get their attack going through dropped ball and mis-directed passes.

The Kings however seemed to lift their intensity and were being well-directed by Catrakilis who got them into good attacking areas.

They were also helped by the Hurricanes continuing to give away penalties.

The Kings were able to profit nine minutes after the break when Cooke crossed for the Kings' second try after Karl Lowe had been penalised for getting in front of his kicker.

Catrakilis' conversion left the visitors trailing by just six points.

Hammett immediately turned to his bench bringing on Chris Smylie, Faifili Levave, Motu Matu'u and Reggie Goodes.

But the Hurricanes' play was still ragged and it wasn't until Tusi Pisi was brought on for Andre Taylor and Barrett switched to fullback that things started to open up.

Shields, who carried the ball strongly all game, scored his maiden Super Rugby try. Leiua then scorched in under the posts before Franklin ensured the visitors ended the match on a good note.

Scorers: Hurricanes 46 (Ben May, Conrad Smith, TJ Perenara, Jeremy Thrush, Brad Shields, Alapati Leiua tries; Beauden Barrett 5 con, 2 pen) Southern Kings 30
Tries: Steven Sykes, Ronny Cooke, Hannes Franklin tries; Demetri Catrakilis 2 con, 3 pen; George Whitehead con). HT: 29-16