After the Highlanders struggled against the Brumbies in leveling conditions last night, there was some nervousness in the Capital today as the horizontal rain settled in so romantically.
As it turned out, this was one of the best Hurricanes performances in their history; from the big players through to those who suddenly find themselves in the spotlight. Willis Halaholo being a good example of that
An extraordinary score line from a side that is timing a run of form that must be making even the more emotionally battered of Hurricanes fans hoping.
The weather did not suit the Hurricanes style of play one bit, but to paraphrase Robert Muldoon, it didn’t help the other lot either. You had to feel sorry for April with those early shots at goal. It’s hard enough trying to place it with the wind like that; even harder when the goalposts are waving around like those inflatable stick-men you sometimes see at car yards.
More than anything else this was a victory for the Hurricanes coaching staff. It is impossible to overstate their role in this.
They completely nailed the contentious selections. There had been concern about the injury attrition of Hurricanes props leading up to this. But Uhila and May carried on from there they left off in Christchurch last week. They showed they are so much more than impact players.
While the focus on the number 11 jersey all week had been about the demotion of Julian Savea, it was just as much about having three payers at the back with significant experience at fullback. The conditions were predicted days out; a glorified game of force back was always on the cards.
And the aerial catch by Woodward following the Barrett cross-kick that led to the first try was quite something. He is a different player from the one who dropped the ball against the Chiefs. A good advertisement for what a game back in club rugby can do.
Then there was the coaching side of things. The sprint defence is proving to be a real factor in this late season surge of form. And when the turnover happens there are people at hand to make it count.
The stars all stood up, and it was a sign that Boyd and Plumtree had the confidence to drag The Big Three of A Savea, Perenara and Barrett off after 60 minutes.
TJ Perenara just gets better as this season goes along. How good is the sight of a halfback bumping someone off? That was a regular thing too.
And then there was Barrett. He is in the form of his life; revelling in the fact he knew how to play in the conditions. Some of those long punts into the wind in the first half seemed to defy science.
It was an all-round classy performance across the park from a team playing so well collectively, tainted only by what appears to be a serious injury to Dane Coles. Just as well others are stepping up.
Footnote: Commentary highlight of the night was Tony Johnson calling out Glen Jackson for saying “Shouldn’t of”. We need more of this.