Hooker Motu Matu'u capped off an eventful few days when scoring his first Super Rugby try in the Hurricanes' big win over the Waratahs in Sydney last night.
The 25-year-old first made his considerable presence felt in the thrashing of the Rebels in Wellington a week ago - his front-on tackles leaving backs Lachlan Mitchell and Mark Gerrard prone and probably a few television viewers squirming in discomfort.
During the week Matu'u, in his first season of Super Rugby, signed on for another year with the Hurricanes and played an important part in keeping them in the play-off race during their 33-12 win over the Waratahs at the Sydney Football Stadium. At 108kg, Matu'u is a powerful back-up to Dane Coles and his physicality means his side can no longer be written off as the soft defensive touch they have been for most of the season.
This was the Hurricanes' first win against the Waratahs for six years and all came a little too easy in the end. After talking during the week of his side's terrible record against the Waratahs, captain Conrad Smith has allowed himself to consider the play-offs after the four-try victory put them back up to sixth, helped by the Sharks' failure to score a competition point in their shock 38-28 loss to the Lions in Johannesburg.
"We're enjoying playing together and have defied a lot of the critics who wrote us off at the start of the year, so we're loving it," Smith said.
Newly named All Blacks wing Julian Savea dotted down first for the Hurricanes, Beauden Barrett's conversion giving them a four-point lead at the break. Tries by Matu'u, Smith and Chris Eaton came in the final 17 minutes, with halfback Eaton's late score a final dagger in the disappointing Waratahs who have now lost 10 matches this season.
They have kissed their play-off hopes goodbye, with skipper Benn Robinson saying: "To be leaking 33 points is very disappointing. In years gone past we've been a strong defensive side, but 33 points, no matter how good our attack is, we can't be winning those games."
- APNZBy Patrick McKendry Email Patrick