Flyhalf Beauden Barrett surpassed 100 points for the season, kicking six penalties to lift the Hurricanes to a 25-20 win over the Bulls in Super Rugby yesterday.
South Africa’s Bulls looked likely to become the first team this season to win outside their own country when replacement flyhalf Handre Pollard sliced through the Hurricanes’ defense in the 68th minute for a converted try that gave the Bulls a 20-19 lead.
However, Barrett reclaimed the lead for the Hurricanes with his fifth and sixth penalties of the match and with a conversion of Andre Taylor’s first-half try finished with a personal tally of 20 points.
The Bulls rallied from 13-3 down in the first half and outscored the Hurricanes by two tries to one, but were finally beaten on goal kicks.
The Bulls produced an outstanding defensive performance to hold the Hurricanes to a 16-13 lead at half-time, though the Wellington-based side — playing at their alternative home venue — had dominated almost every aspect of the match.
The Hurricanes set out to test the Pretoria-based Bulls by playing the game at pace and with width in the first 40 minutes and they kept up steady pressure, which the visitors showed great character to resist. The Hurricanes also tested the Bulls’ defense with a kicking game and won six kick recoveries against a defensive line that was often strained.
The Hurricanes managed only one try, to fullback Taylor, from a brilliant cross-field kick by Barrett that was knocked into Taylor’s arms by winger Cory Jane.
After being hard-pressed to clear their territory for much of the half, the Bulls scored a try against the run of play through fullback Jurgen Visser, from a high kick by flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgeiter. Potgeiter was forced from the field early in the second half with a leg injury.
His replacement, Pollard, made an outstanding contribution when he sidestepped and cut between Hurricanes flankers Faifili Levave and Jack Lam for the try that gave the Bulls their first lead. However, the Bulls made two disciplinary errors late in the match, conceding penalties that were converted by Barrett.
“We played a really good side that almost wrested it away from us,” Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith said. “While I thought we showed really good character to stick with what we know well, it almost got away from us.”
“It’s a tight competition and these games are going to come down to the wire. It was nice to get one go our way,” Smith added.
The Bulls sustained a heavy injury toll in the first match of a four-game tour to Australia and New Zealand, but took confidence from a gutsy performance.
“Well done to Conrad and the boys,” Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe said. “They really put us under pressure and played us really well.”
“We lost a couple of guys early on and made a couple of huge mistakes in our area and that cost us at the end of the night,” Van der Merwe said.
REDS 29, FORCE 32
In Brisbane, fullback Jayden Hayward beat three defenders to score a 79th-minute try as the Western Force won over the Queensland Reds yesterday.
It was the Force’s fourth consecutive win, a first in the club’s nine-year history.
Australia flyhalf Quade Cooper had a chance to level the often spiteful match after the siren had sounded, but his drop-kick sailed just to the right of the posts.
A hobbling Cooper had earlier in the second half handed the goal-kicking duties to Michael Harris, and the inside center kicked four penalties.