Last night’s game against the Chiefs was the Hurricanes eleventh win out of twelve matches in SupeRugby 2015. This is a simply a remarkable statistic in today’s age of derby games, video analysis, high travel and resting players over what is a lengthy and brutal competition. The catch-cry from most teams that either miss the playoffs or home ground advantage if they make it is “if we have won those close games that we dropped we would have won the thing”.
For a team that has the worst record of New Zealand teams in Super Rugby since its inception, this year’s Hurricanes side has developed a remarkable record of “winning the close ones”, including holding on to winning leads at the end of matches with extraordinary doses of good fortune and resilience. Six games this year have been won by 7 points or less by the Canes with only one “close loss” themselves (vs NSW).
Let’s examine this more closely:
Round Two (vs Bulls) – Bulls replacement Grant Hattingh goes over late for what should have been the match winning try but was denied by the TMO as his left hand broke the touchline in an unnecessary flourish while scoring.
Round Six (vs Highlanders) – the Highlanders are denied a draw when the match equalling try is disallowed following referral to the TMO for a forward pass multiple phases earlier. Forward passes are difficult things to rule on at any time and this one was no different.
Round Ten (vs Waratahs) – although well beaten by the Waratahs, the Canes secured 2 bonus points when the Waratahs failed to capitalise on a tryline attack in the last movement of the game with a knock on. Remember in SupeRugby a four try loss by seven or less is equivalent to a 3-3 draw.
Round Thirteen (vs Sharks) – a clear try following a drive from a rolling a maul is denied by the TMO resulting a in a huge momentum switch for the Canes who were defending a rampant Sharks team for most of the second half (they then go on to win).
Round Fourteen (vs Chiefs) – TMO Vinny Munro denies the Chiefs a match winning try late in the game following Prop Chris Eves clearly playing the ball on the ground. The Canes subsequently disrupt the resultant scrum and escape with another victory.
In addition, no less than three other games in Rounds 5, 8 and 12 (vs Blues, Stormers and Crusaders) were won following last minute “goal line stands” where the Canes defended multiple phases and wave on wave of attacks in their own half to secure victory.
Good luck, guts and determination or simply good coaching? No-one will really know until the playoffs but there’s something about this team that makes you think there really is something special going on here…
You be the judge.