Game On!   23 May 2006

Ellie van Baaren

The inaugural Super 14 final will be an all-New zealand affair after the Hurricanes narrowly beat the waratahs and the crusaders strolled past the bulls. ellie van baaren reports.

I think i need to keep on predicting the Hurricanes will lose, because they seem to like proving me wrong. Against the predictions of more pundits than myself, the Hurricanes downed the Waratahs in a tense affair at Westpac Stadium last Friday to set up an all-New Zealand final on Saturday.

I said at the beginning of the season I had a soft spot for the Hurricanes, mainly because they seemed to trip themselves up at the last hurdle.

Now they find themselves in their first Super final and looking pretty comfortable at that.

The difference between the 2006 Hurricanes and previous outfits has been the fact they have retained their backline flair without compromising on the hard grind and a disciplined game plan.

Their last two matches have seen them defend their line like a lionness protecting her cubs, denying the Waratahs tries despite the fact they were camped in the Hurricanes’ half for large parts of the game.

In the weekend’s semifinal the Wellington team managed to secure more possession than the week before, but that made the job only marginally easier. Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie is crying foul over referee Jonathan Kaplan (see below) but even he and captain Chris Whitaker had to admit that the Hurricanes deserved to win and both backed them to go all the way.

Mind you they would say that. It’s an easier pill to swallow if you were beaten by the eventual champions rather than the runners up.

The Hurricanes’ winning points came from the boot of replacement Jimmy Gopperth after the Waratahs were penalised for collapsing the scrum. The home team only scored one try, a Lome Fa’atau touchdown that came after Kaplan gave the Hurricanes the feed to a re-set scrum.

The Hurricanes emerged from the game virtually unscathed and will no doubt be fielding a largely unchanged team for this weekend’s showdown.

Just as the Waratahs are backing the Hurricanes, the defeated Bulls are betting their opponents, the Crusaders, will be too strong for the Wellington team.

As a sign of the overwhelming expectation on the red and blacks to triumph over the fourth-placed Bulls, only 26,000 people out of a capacity 35,000 turned up to watch the game. In contrast, a full house is expected for this weekend’s match.

This will be the Crusaders eighth final in 12 Super competitions and their win against the Bulls made it eight out of eight semifinal appearance and marked their 20th home win in succession. In fact the defending champions have won 34 of their last 35 home appearances. On paper at least the odds aren’t looking great for the Hurricanes.

The Crusaders won 35-15 over the Bulls, scoring five tries to the visitors’ two, with Rico Gear dotting down twice.

Even though the Crusaders were overwhelming favourites, the team expressed surprise that the Bulls played with so little imagination, going for ineffectual kicks rather than using their backline to run at the defence.

After denying that travel would be a deciding factor in the game, the Bulls’ camp was blaming travelling around the world in the same week as playing for some of their lacklustre performance.

Regardless of the reason, the Crusaders are well aware that the Hurricanes will pose a completely different challenge on Saturday.

Ma’a Nonu, Tana Umaga and Rodney So’oialo are at their best, while Lome Fa’atau is first equal on the try-scoring list for the Super 14.

After proving themselves twice against the Waratahs, the Hurricanes have definitely gained respect in their quest to take the inaugural Super 14 title, however facing the Crusaders is a huge task.

Apart from the individual brilliance of players such as Daniel Carter, Richie McCaw, Chris Jack and Leon MacDonald, the team is a machine. They are well-oiled and frighteningly disciplined, especially when it comes to the business end of the season.

Plus, much as the Hurricanes would like to deny it, experience at this level does count for something. They will be trying as much as possible to treat this match just like any other sudden death game in a bid to combat any signs of stage fright. It will be up to the senior players to show the coolness of character, focus and discipline that is needed to combat the impassiveness of the Crusaders. Having said that. Go the Hurricanes!

Add a comment

Bookmark and Share

News

Have your say: NZ considers rules for medicinal cannabis

12 Jul 2019 Health By Hon Dr David Clark
More widespread access to medicinal cannabis products is a step closer today with the release of proposals for regulations says... more

Steps taken to secure the future of New Zealand House London

10 Jul 2019 News By Rt HON WINSTON PETERS
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says further steps are being taken towards securing the future of New Zealand House in... more

Business

Minister Parker leads trade delegation to China

24 Apr 2019 Business News By Hon David Parker
Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker will lead a delegation of business representatives to China next week to advance the... more

Multinationals to pay fair share of tax

26 Jun 2018 Business News
26 JUNE 2018 HON STUART NASH New measures to ensure multinational companies pay their fair share of tax will come into force next... more

Living

Kiwis Saving Kiwi - London fundraiser to save NZ's iconic national bird

3 Jun 2019 London
This is an opportunity for London Kiwis to become Kiwi Savers. We're not talking about our financial future here, but the very... more

Celebrating NZ wine: today is International Sauvignon Blanc Day!

3 May 2019 Food & Wine
Today, Friday 3 May, is International Sauvignon Blanc Day. Sauvignon Blanc is the variety that woke the world up to New Zealand wine,... more

Property

New Zealand Government will not implement a Capital Gains Tax

17 Apr 2019 Property By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
The Coalition Government will not proceed with the Tax Working Group’s recommendation for a capital gains tax, Jacinda Ardern... more

More certainty in construction sector smooths boom and bust cycle

22 Aug 2018 Property
30 JULY 2018More certainty in construction sector smooths boom and bust cycle HON JENNY SALESA The 2018 National Construction Pipeline... more

Migration

Christchurch reinstated as refugee settlement location

18 Aug 2018 Migration
18 AUGUST 2018 HON IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY The announcement that Christchurch can once again be a settlement location for refugees... more

Post-study work rights emphasise skills NZ needs

8 Aug 2018 Migration
8 AUGUST 2018 HON IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY Changes to post-study work rights will help ensure international students coming to New Zealand... more

Travel

Arrival card change to smooth border process for international travellers to NZ

26 Sep 2018 Travel & Tourism By Hon Kris Faafoi
25 SEPTEMBER 2018 International travellers arriving into New Zealand should have a simpler, faster entry as a result of changes to... more

NZ Government to fully fund Auckand's SkyPath as part of $390m investment in walking and cycling

25 Aug 2018 Travel & Tourism
23 AUGUST 2018 HON PHIL TWYFORD HON JAMES SHAW Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Acting Associate Transport Minister James Shaw have... more

Sport

Looking to Lord's - The CWC19 Final awaits

14 Jul 2019 Cricket
Posted Friday, 12 July, 2019 in International News New Zealand or England will lift... more

Cricket World Cup 2019: England will face Black Caps in final after thumping Australia

12 Jul 2019 Cricket By Steve Douglas
Jul 12 2019 SKY SPORT England will play the Black Caps in the Cricket World Cup final after crushing Australia at Edgbaston. more

Columns

Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade

11 Nov 2016 Opinion
Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade First published on Werewolf The ghastly likes of Marine Le Pen in France and Geert ... more

Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome

10 Nov 2016 Opinion
Column - Gordon Campbell   Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome Well um.. on the bright side, there (probably)... more

Kiwi Success

Congratulations to Loder Cup winner

26 Sep 2018 People By Hon Eugenie Sage
25 SEPTEMBER 2018 The Loder Cup, one of New Zealand’s oldest conservation awards, has been awarded to Robert McGowan for 2018... more

Appointments to New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO

16 Aug 2018 Appointments
16 AUGUST 2018Appointments to New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO HON JENNY SALESA Associate Education Minister Jenny Salesa is... more

Recruitment

Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers

14 Aug 2018 Recruitment By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
14 AUGUST 2018Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers RT HON JACINDA ARDERN HON CHRIS HIPKINS Prime Minister The... more

Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers

22 Aug 2018 Recruitment By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
14 AUGUST 2018Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers RT HON JACINDA ARDERN HON CHRIS HIPKINS Prime Minister The... more