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Rugby: Super Hooper breaks Hurricanes' hearts

Andre Taylor evades the tackle of Kane Douglas. Photo / Getty Images
Andre Taylor evades the tackle of Kane Douglas. Photo / Getty Images

Waratahs 39
Hurricanes 30

An aqualung or the VO2 max of an Olympic rowing champion would've been handy in Sydney last night for a contest high on pace and flair but lacking in defence and structural composure.

First Take: Hurricanes play like the Crazy Gang

The Waratahs went into the top six of the competition with the bonus-point 39-30 victory. They're fourth overall on 29 points, one behind the Brumbies. With all their efforts drawing a blank on the points table, the Hurricanes lost their place at the top of the New Zealand conference. They stay on 26 points, dropping to third below the Chiefs and Crusaders.

The free-flowing nature of the game was obvious, with eight tries scored, five to the hosts.

At one stage, the Hurricanes had extended their lead to 24-7 - all unanswered points - but the Waratahs levelled at halftime and extended beyond.

The first five-eighths duel captivated between Bernard Foley and Beauden Barrett.

Foley's play was clinical. He did the basics well with his tactical kicking, passing and running and his accurate place-kicking reinforced it.

Barrett impressed for the Hurricanes. His chip kicks over the Waratahs' defence line played the percentages successfully, forcing any of the back three towards the touchline and reducing their angle to kick or run a recovery. The gain in possession was worth the loss in position. As pivot, he also directed his runners skilfully and showed why he will continue to challenge for the All Blacks No 10 jersey, especially with Dan Carter on sabbatical.

Barrett was gifted a try of 'Minties Moments' proportions in the 25th minute when, after a 70m Hurricanes foray to within metres of the Waratahs line, they lost possession. Israel Folau ran it in-goal and slopped the ball to Wycliff Palu, who spilt the pass. Barrett scooped it up like a pelican.

Jack Lam's usual defensive diligence was undone by a couple of Rippa Rugby-type tackles which led to Rob Horne and Matthew Carraro tries, while his opposite Michael Hooper countered with his usual brand of tackling brilliance. Hooper, again strong at the breakdown last night, has had an outstanding Super Rugby season and remains a key Wallabies weapon. The Waratahs were let down by losing three of their own lineout throws in an operation resembling something that might've been put together by Dad's Army's Captain Mainwaring.

Waratahs 39 (R. Horne, D. Dennis, B. Foley, M. Carraro, S. Hoiles tries; Foley 4 cons, 2 pens) Hurricanes 30 (J. Toomaga-Allen, B. Barrett, J. Savea tries; Barrett 3 cons, 3 pens). Halftime: 24-24.

- Herald on Sunday

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