hurricanes.co.nz and James Mortimer 08.Apr.2013Getty Images
A combined eighteen tries were run in and 116 points scored in a match that too often resembled a training run than a competitive rugby match.
Loose defence and soft turnovers were a constant theme, as both sides gave away a number of easy tries, many from broken play and several that were started at one end of the field and finished at the opposite end.
Played in cool but dry conditions with little wind, a combined 10 tries were scored in the first half. From the opening try in the fifth minute to the last of the first half in the 40th, it was tit-for-tat scoring.. The Hurricanes Development selection and Junior Japan scored five tries each and the Hurricanes led 31-29 at halftime.
The individual star of the match was electric Junior Japan left wing Kenki Fukuoka, who scored a hat-trick of tries, including the try of the match midway through the first half when he accelerated into the backline after a scrum near halfway and put the afterburners on to score under the posts.
Fukuoka was part of a slick Japanese backline that was dangerous with ball in hand. Sparked by halfback Takahiro Yamasawa, midfielders Yasuki Hayashi and Vaihu Tonishio and right wing Takaaaki Nakazuru were also rewarded with tries. Hooker Atushi Sakate scored their other try.
After halftime, the Hurricanes showed their intent to play more direct, patient rugby in the second half, and were rewarded with two consecutive converted tries in the opening 10 minutes of the half. This extended their lead to 45-29 and proved the winning of the game.
The Japanese came back with an unconverted try, Fukuoka’s second, to close the score to 45-36, but the Hurricanes pulled clear again with two further consecutive tries.
Fukuoka re-gathered a kick and chase and ran away to score his third try, but the Hurricanes had the final say when lock Shahn Eru waltzed through a gap to score his second try and the Hurricanes’ 11th.
As well as Eru, openside flanker and captain Callum Gibbins, left wing Joe Hill and first five-eighth James Marshall all scored two tries each. Gibbins ran through some ineffective tackling to score both his tries, Hill was rewarded for a busy game out wide, likewise Marshall at pivot. Marshall’s kicking in general play was sound as was his goal kicking in converting eight tries and finishing with 26 points.