Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett says being in charge of his young tyros is like riding a roller coaster but they conjured up their fair share of thrills as they beat the Sharks 42-18 in New Plymouth tonight.
The Hurricanes, who improved to four wins and three losses for the season as they head in to their first bye next week, laid on six tries in front of 10,422 people at Yarrow Stadium.
More importantly for Hammett, it was a marked improvement on last week's 47-38 loss to the Cheetahs where the Hurricanes fell off more tackles than you would care to remember as they coughed up a 21-point lead.
"I don't like to use it as an excuse but we are a young group,'' the second-year head coach said.
"We are going to go through stages of a game as a group where we will go through roller coasters during a game. But if we can flatten those roller coasters out then we won't put ourselves under so much pressure.
"We came off a performance we weren't proud of to a performance we can be proud of. I thought we put some really good structure together and scored some good tries because of it.''
Andre Taylor, Jack Lam, Julian Savea, Conrad Smith, Tim Bateman and Jeremy Thrush all crossed for five-pointers for the Hurricanes who never looked like losing against a Sharks outfit that beat the Brumbies 29-26 in Canberra last week.
The Hurricanes were up 25-3 at the break and although the Sharks scored first in the second stanza, Bateman's individual effort with about 20 minutes to play locked up the points for the team in yellow.
Taranaki's Beauden Barrett, who played his first Super Rugby game on his home ground, was strong in general play but the No 10 had an off night with his goal-kicking as he only drilled five goals from 10 attempts.
The game was marred slightly by a wild all-in brawl after 31 minutes where nearly ever player on the paddock was involved.
Hurricanes flanker Karl Lowe and Sharks hooker Craig Burden were eventually shown white cards after the dust-up, which was well handled by referee Glen Jackson.
Sharks coach John Plumtree, who formerly coached Wellington in New Zealand's National Provincial Championship, said his side just missed the boat tonight.
"I think we just couldn't finish off those opportunities. We dominated territory and possession but I think four times in the first half we got in their 22 but we didn't score and then they had possession twice in the first 15 minutes and scored two tries. So it was a bit frustrating for us, really,'' he said.
"I've got to hand it to the Hurricanes. I mean they defended beautifully tonight. It was certainly a step up from what we saw last week.''
The Hurricanes' loose forward trio of Lam, man-of-the-match Lowe and Faifili Levave won plenty of ball for the home side at the breakdown and hammered the Sharks on the ground.
"They hurt us a little bit in that area. Nine turnovers from the breakdown in the first half and that grew in the second,'' Plumtree lamented.
The Sharks now travel to Auckland to meet the one-win five-loss Blues at Eden Park next Friday night, while the Hurricanes can make the most of a well-earned week off.
Hurricanes 42 (Andre Taylor, Jack Lam, Julian Savea, Conrad Smith, Tim Bateman, Jeremy Thrush tries; Beauden Barrett 3 cons, 2 pens) Sharks 18 (JP Pietersen, Craig Burden tries; Frederic Michalak 2 pens, con) HT: 25-3
- APNZBy Daniel Richardson @danrichardson21 Email Daniel