Sky Super Rugby Transtasman: Hurricanes likely to miss final after defeat to Brumbies

Brumbies 12
Hurricanes 10

The Brumbies have dealt a huge blow to the Hurricanes’ chances of making the Super Rugby Transtasman final after holding on for a deserved victory built on a near unbreakable defence in Canberra.

It didn’t come without controversy or disappointment for that matter, in particular for fullback Jordie Barrett, who missed two penalty attempts in the final two minutes.

The first was from halfway which he pulled to the left and the second was awarded with 20 seconds remaining when the Brumbies attempted to soak up time with pick and go tactics for the entire final minute.

Few would have expected Barrett, normally a sharp-shooter, to miss yet again, but he did, albeit from near the left touchline.

Before that very late drama, Alex Fidow, the Hurricanes’ replacement prop, thought he was over for a try with a stunning effort six minutes from the end but it was ruled out on review by Kiwi referee Paul Williams due to a small knock-on in the build-up by Ardie Savea.

The Brumbies’ victory, only the second by an Australian side in this competition, was built on defensive grit and while they made hard work of it in the end, a defeat would have been tough to stomach after the effort they put in against a much more fancied side who lost loose forward DuPlessis Kirifi to a yellow card for a high tackle in the first half.

The Hurricanes, who began the weekend second on the table behind the Blues and sitting pretty for a finals position, have dropped to fourth below the Highlanders and Crusaders. They now need two minor miracles in order to make the final.

The Brumbies, relishing being back on home turf after three matches in New Zealand and wearing jerseys which celebrated their Pasifika heritage, had the better of the first quarter.

Solomone Kata of the Brumbies. Photo / Getty
Solomone Kata of the Brumbies. Photo / Getty

They opened the scoring via halfback Ryan Lonergan’s converted try from close range and then showed atypical defensive starch, from an Australian perspective, to comfortably keep the Hurricanes out.

So it was a minor surprise when, after the Hurricanes’ attacking lineout and driving maul endured several early wobbles, hooker Dane Coles was the beneficiary of a converted try after an attacking set piece and well-worked drive.

And the visitors coped superbly well with Kirifi’s yellow card for a shoulder to the head of Brumbies lock Darcy Swain.

Despite having to defend initially, they played the rest of the half at their own tempo and took the lead once the loose forward returned, Barrett kicking the penalty which gave them the halftime lead.

The Brumbies were initially guilty of spreading the ball too laterally and failing to kick with subtlety but fortunately for them loose forward Rob Valetini, who had an excellent tour of New Zealand, was a one-man momentum changer and his collisions with Ardie Savea were highlights in themselves.

The Hurricanes had a chance to extend their lead after the break but Barrett missed a penalty, and the Brumbies capitalised on replacement halfback Nic White’s excellent cameo when centre Len Ikitau scored an excellent try which highlighted his pace and balance.

From there, against the odds, the Brumbies held on.

Brumbies 12 (Ryan Lonergan, Len Ikitau tries; Noah Lolesio con)
Hurricanes 10 (Dane Coles try; Jordie Barrett con, pen)
Halftime: 10-7

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