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Hurricanes fend off Force

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Sportal.co.nz     19 Apr 2013     Getty Images

After being kept try-less by the Blues at Eden Park last week the Hurricanes rediscovered some of their attacking mojo as prop Jeff Toomaga-Allen, flanker Brad Shields and first five-eighths Tusi Pisi crossed the whitewash.

Although they outscored the Force three tries to one, it still wasn't a truly convincing performance as they gave away too many penalties and struggled to get out of the own half – particularly in the second half.

Alby Mathewson's try for the Force midway through the second spell gave the visitors some hope.

But the Hurricanes were able to hang on even with the sin-binning of replacement lock James Broadhurst.

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett decided to stick with Pisi at pivot and Beauden Barrett at fullback.

While the All Black was much more involved from the back with some good incisive runs and excellent awareness of the opportunities in front on him, Pisi had a mixed night.

Some of his passing was loose and he was lucky that a kick-out on the full didn't result in anything more than three points.

He was replaced by Andre Taylor after an hour which saw Barrett shift to his regular position.

A bright opening quarter by both teams only yielded a penalty to Barrett after his opposite number Jayden Hayward had missed an early three-pointer.

Barrett and winger Alapati Leiua both had chances to grab the game's opening try only to knock on.

Leiua couldn't latch on to a deft grubber kick by Julian Savea, then Barrett showed great footballing skills as he kicked ahead several times only to have the bounce of the ball not go his way with the line begging.

A lineout steal by Jeremy Thrush, who was impressive on his return from an ankle injury, set up Toomaga-Allen's first try of the season in the 20th minute.

The ball was spun wide to the right before swinging back the other way and the big prop bumped off Toby Lynn, who had lost the ball at the line-out, and spun his way over. Barrett's conversion gave the home side a 10-0 lead.

Pisi then made a basic error kicking the ball out on the full after it was passed back in the 22 to put his side under pressure.

With the pick and go working effectively for the West Australians they came close to an opening try only for prop Tetera Faulkner to be ruled to have come up short.

Instead former Hurricane Hayward slotted a penalty to get his side on the board.

But the Hurricanes responded immediately with a brilliant counter-attack from Leiua.

A quick line-out throw by Julian Savea, who had a quiet night overall, found its way to Leiua and he carved through the Force then passed inside to Shields to dot down.

Barrett missed with wide conversion then had a penalty come back off the crossbar.

The Hurricanes had to withstand a late charge from the Force but made it to half-time without conceding again.

Lazy running from Shields gifted Hayward a simple penalty early in the second half.

But again the Hurricanes replied almost instantly, this time with a well-worked team try that was finished by Pisi in the corner and converted by Barrett.

A great solo effort from Mathewson, whose darting 20m run took him past several would-be tacklers on the way to the try line, gave the Force some hope.

But despite all the good field position they had simple errors kept allowing the Hurricanes off the hook.

The home side were also testing referee Nick Briant's patience too, particularly with their infringing at the breakdown.

It eventually resulted in a yellow card for Broadhurst with eight minutes to go.

Hayward slotted to the penalty which at least gave the Force a bonus point for finishing with seven.


Hurricanes: 22 (Toomaga-Allen, Shields, Pisi tries; Barrett 2 cons, Barrett pen)

Force: 16 (Mathewson try; Hayward con, 3 pen)

HT: 15-3 Hurricanes

Crowd: 7,783 @Westpac Stadium