Hurricanes claim bonus point in miserable conditions

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Lynn McConnell     23 May 2015     Getty Images

It strengthened the Hurricanes' position on the ladder and ended the Blues 12 month, to the day, unbeaten run on the ground.

The strengthened Hurricanes resolve was never better demonstrated than their 66th minute response to the Blues' only try scored two minutes earlier to replacement wing Matt Vaega.

Getting back into the Blues 22m area, they moved the ball quickly through first five-eighths Otere Black, who had an outstanding game directing his side throughout with good effect, to wing Nehe Milner-Skudder who dived over in the corner for the bonus point try.

For 35 minutes the game appeared to be going nowhere as neither side was able to gain the initiative, although that wasn't for lack of trying. But the conditions made control difficult and inevitably, it was a more static option that opened up the opportunity for the first Hurricanes try.

It came after a lineout maul and with the Blues defence manfully executing their tackles, it was prop Chris Eves who got the vital weigh-on to score.

Getting more bang for their kicking game, the Hurricanes got back into the Blues 22 and after some clever work by Milner-Skudder who broke to within a metre of the goal-line, it was halfback TJ Perenara who saw the Blues defence had drifted to the blindside, allowing him to dive over unchallenged.

The Hurricanes created more pressure through the superior accuracy of their kicking game, although the Blues did not help themselves with their kick returns, or their fielding of the kicks with fullback Lolagi Visinia suffering one embarrassing lapse.

In the absence of usual hard man James Broadhurst, Mark Abbott took on the lock's driving role, several times being the hit-up man with good effect.

Of the newcomers in the Blues, flanker Blake Gibson had a fine game, working in concert with Brendan O'Connor, to make a power of tackles.

However, no amount of tackling could contain the Hurricanes in the build-up to their third try, scored in the 54th minute.

Opting for a lineout rather than a shot at goal, they controlled the maul and brought wing Julian Savea from the blindside to set up the ruck. Then the ball was moved back on the short-side with Perenara's longer pass finding hooker Dane Coles who scored the try.

Under the conditions it was a Hurricanes performance built on patience and the injection of power on the part of the forwards, and pace from the backs, that marked the significant difference between the sides.

The Blues, down on luck and without their hard core of experience, fought hard defensively but they lacked the quality of ball to effectively pressure a Hurricanes side that took another step toward their championship goal.

Scorers: Blues 5 (Matt Vaega try) Hurricanes 29 (Chris Eves, TJ Perenara, Dane Coles, Nehe Milner-Skudder tries; Otere Black 3 con, pen). HT: 0-17