All Blacks center Ma’a Nonu scored two second-half tries to help the Wellington Hurricanes back into playoff contention with a 34-11 Super 14 victory over South Africa’s Stormers yesterday.
Nonu finished off a mid-field break by fellow All Black Cory Jane in the 52nd minute, then burst through three tackles from an attacking scrum to give the home side a bonus-point try 10 minutes later.
The victory moved the Hurricanes up to 29 points, equal with South Africa’s Bulls, who have a better points differential and retained second place behind the Sharks.
Lock Jeremy Thrush and winger Tamati Ellison — who was set up by Nonu with a long cut-out pass — scored the other tries for the home side, while flyhalf Willie Ripia slotted four conversions and two penalties.
“We achieved what we set out to do today, which was to win,” Hurricanes captain Rodney So’oialo said.
Replacement center Dylan Des Fountain, who came on for Stormers captain Jean de Villiers in the fifth minute, opened the scoring in the eighth minute with an opportunist try when he kicked ahead from deep inside his own half.
Hurricanes fullback Jane, who was the last defender, slipped over as he turned and Des Fountain then managed to beat Ripia to the ball as it bounced over the try line, though Peter Grant made a hash of the easy conversion.
Grant also missed another easy shot at goal, but slotted two penalties, one each side of the halftime break.
“No excuses for tonight, it was a poor performance from our guys. We made a lot of errors and the Hurricanes capitalized on it,” Stormers stand-in captain Schalk Burger said. “It has been the story of our season, we have coughed up so much ball and we can’t get any continuity. They’ve [Hurricanes] got game breakers all over the park, and we saw tonight that if you give them loose ball and possession you can’t defend it.”
■LIONS 31, REDS 20
Lions winger Henno Metz scored a hat-trick of tries, the third while his side were reduced to 13 men, to help the South Africans to a victory over the Queensland Reds in their Super 14 clash in Brisbane yesterday.
Metz scored two of his tries off turnovers as the Lions defended desperately deep inside their own half and the left wing used his searing pace to outsprint the Reds’ cover.
The Lions spent eight minutes of the second half with 13 men after replacement loose forward Robert Kruger was sin-binned for a late tackle on Reds fullback Mark McLinden.
Lock Anton van Zyl joined him on the sidelines two minutes later for a professional foul while Quade Cooper was in the process of scoring a try to bring the Reds back to 24-20.
The Lions, however, controlled possession and stole several of Queensland’s lineout throws to ensure the Reds’ numerical advantage was not turned into points.
Lions flanker Ernst Joubert scored the visitors’ other try, while flyhalf Andre Pretorius converted all four and added a penalty.
“To have 13 against these guys who really can throw the ball around like it is a touch rugby game, I really must take my hat off to my boys,” Joubert said in a televised interview. “It was a brilliant performance. We kind of fell into their trap and were playing to their game plan, but in the second half we just calmed down and started to play the game a bit slower and it suited us better.”
Will Genia and Scott Higginbotham scored first-half tries for the Reds, while Berrick Barnes slotted a penalty and a conversion.