The Wellington Hurricanes maintained their perfect start to the Super 14 season with a hard-fought 33-18 home win over the Golden Lions.
Hurricanes stave off Lions' attack
The Wellington Hurricanes maintained their perfect start to the Super 14 season yesterday with a hard-fought 33-18 home win over the Golden Lions. After running in seven tries last week against Western Force the South Africans proved to be a much sterner test for Colin Cooper's men. But tries to Michael Paterson, Piri Weepu, Andrew Hore and David Smith got the Hurricanes across the line - and with a bonus point - despite being down to 14 men for a 10-minute spell in the second half when Ma'a Nonu was sent to the sin-bin for repeated Hurricanes infringing.
The Lions rarely put boot to ball and their attacking mindset was rewarded with tries to Derick Minnie and Todd Clever. The Hurricanes revealed after the game that Cooper would be replaced by the former New Zealand hooker Mark Hammett at the end of the season. Hammett is assistant coach of the Canterbury Crusaders, but will take the step up to become head coach at the Hurricanes. He will be assisted by Alama Ieremia, a former All Blacks centre,
"This is a great opportunity, and I am looking forward to stepping up to the responsibility of being head coach," Hammett said. "The Hurricanes have a strong and proud team and I'm looking forward to being part of building on the great work already achieved." Elsewhere, the winger Lelia Masaga scored a try off a lost lineout by the Western Force to clinch a 37-19 victory for the Waikato Chiefs.
The Chiefs led 13-6 at half-time thanks to Hika Elliot's try, the only five-pointer of the first 40 minutes. All three of Waikato's wins have been on the road - a 19-18 success over the Sharks in Durban in the first round and a 72-65 victory over the Lions in Johannesburg last week in the highest-scoring Super 14 match. Yesterday's loss was the Force's third in a row, leaving them last in the tournament and the only team without a point after three rounds. "We played some good football in the first half but really didn't get any reward for it," said the Force captain Nathan Sharpe.
"Certainly we came out with good expectations, but we just had mistake upon mistake in the second half." Winger Rudi Wulf snatched a late try to help the Auckland Blues seal a dour 27-18 win over the Brisbane Reds in driving rain at Ballymore stadium in Australia. With the Blues protecting a 20-18 lead and staving off fierce drives in the closing stages, the four-test All Black ducked a desperate lunge from a defender to plunge the ball in the left-hand corner at the end of a chain of passes.
Lachie Munro, making his debut, coolly slotted the conversion to seal the Blues' second win of the season and break the Reds' hearts on their return to Ballymore after five years. "We came back but certainly we made it hard for ourselves again at the end there but I'm pleased we got the win," said the Blues' coach, Pat Lam. "It's a marathon not a sprint and we're a little bit conservative at the moment. But that's OK, we'll keep building as the competition builds."
* With agencies