Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Rugby: Hurricanes register tough win in Melbourne

Conrad Smith of the Hurricanes scores a try past Tom English of the Rebels. Photo / Getty Images
Conrad Smith of the Hurricanes scores a try past Tom English of the Rebels. Photo / Getty Images

Hurricanes 25
Rebels 15

Don't count out these Hurricanes.

They've got a tough run in to the end of the season with a collection of Kiwi teams lying in wait but they bounced back to the winner's circle with a gutsy 25-15 victory over the Rebels in Melbourne tonight.

After having their four-match winning run stopped by the Waratahs in Sydney last weekend, the Hurricanes were desperate to come back from their two-week road trip to Australia with at least one win.

They needed to prove to themselves they had the ability to come back from adversity and not let it bother them and tonight's win kept them in Super Rugby playoff contention.

What would also be pleasing for Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett was the way they were able to win on the road, something which has been challenging for teams this year.

In the lead up to the game with the Rebels, the Hurricanes made a point of building up their opposition and talking about how strong they were as a unit despite their lowly status on the ladder and the fact they had only won three from nine games this year.

There's something about playing against your old teammates and former Wellington Lions fullback Jason Woodward, who didn't garner much interest from New Zealand Super Rugby sides despite an impressive ITM Cup in 2012, was the architect behind the first try of the game.

Woodward's deft chip kick looked like it would sit up nicely for him but instead it was first-five Bryce Hegarty who gobbled it up as he bounded over the chalk to score.

Beauden Barrett is Super Rugby's leading point-scorer and his golden boot kept the visitors in touch during the opening 40 minutes and they went to the break with a 12-10 lead.

A couple more penalties from Barrett - punctuated by a pair of misses - then led to arguably the try of the season from the Hurricanes.

Fullback Andre Taylor beat his man with a nifty show-and-go, scarpered down field and managed to smuggle the ball back to a teammate before being bundled in to touch, the ball then found Barrett who hit an inch-perfect crossfield kick in to the arms of Cory Jane.

The All Black wing then went close before popping it back inside to skipper Conrad Smith who crashed over as the Hurricanes finally began to stamp their mark on the game.

Smith's contribution took a sharp turn for the worse though when he was sent to the sin bin in the 68th minute as referee Matt O'Brien had seen enough of the Hurricanes' repeated infringing.

With a 25-10 advantage heading in to the final 10 minutes, the Hurricanes hit survival mode as the Rebels began to swarm.

Another former Wellingtonian then came back to haunt the Hurricanes as Tamati Ellison scored a controversial try where the video referee deemed there was significant evidence the ball was grounded despite television replays being inconclusive.

Hurricanes No 8 Victor Vito was immense during the final stages and when Smith returned to the field the Hurricanes were able to hold on with the full quota of players.

Hurricanes 25 (Conrad Smith try; Beauden Barrett 6 pen, con) Melbourne Rebels 15 (Bryce Hegarty, Tamati Ellison tries, Jason Woodward pen, con) Halftime: 12-10


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