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

Hurricanes record dour win over Force

Brad Shields of the Hurricanes on his way to scoring a try in the tackle of Jayden Hayward of the Force. Photo / Getty Images.
Brad Shields of the Hurricanes on his way to scoring a try in the tackle of Jayden Hayward of the Force. Photo / Getty Images.

Hurricanes 22
Western Force 16

You won't find many highlights from the Hurricanes' 22-16 win over the Western Force in Wellington tonight but at least they escaped with the points.

The Hurricanes of old may have dropped a game like this but it's the sort of contest you need to win during a long Super Rugby season if you want to find yourself at the right end of the table later in the year.

Errors and the whistle of referee Nick Briant dominated proceedings but the small crowd of 7783 was sent home happy at the final whistle.

Burly tighthead prop Jeffery Toomaga-Allen got the first try of the game when he crashed his way through from close range in the 20th minute, which added to Beauden Barrett's earlier penalty.

Toomaga-Allen became the fourth Hurricanes prop to find his way to the line this season after Reg Goodes, Ben Franks and Ben May had also scored earlier in the year.

The 10-0 lead the Hurricanes had established was due reward for the amount of pressure they had the Force under and they twice bombed earlier scoring opportunities as the bounce of the ball didn't go their way.

Just before the half-hour mark Brad Shields extended the home side's advantage when he finished off a thrilling counter-attacking move to score in the corner in the most exciting passage of the game.

Barrett's conversion attempt didn't manage to find the mark but the Hurricanes defended stoutly for the final few minutes of the first spell to take a 15-3 lead to the break.

Former Hurricane Jayden Hayward kept the Force in the game in the early stages of the second half with his second penalty of the game but they couldn't find a way to hit the front.

Hurricanes pivot Tusi Pisi, who was given his second start in as many weeks, then slid through some stretched defence in the 50th minute as the Wellington-based franchise scored their third try.

But as players so often do, Alby Mathewson found his way to the line against his old team as he made a darting run from a lineout and weaved his way past numerous would-be defenders to ensure the Force weren't completely cooked.

With 20 minutes remaining, Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett went to his bench and inserted flying fullback Andre Taylor in to the game for Pisi.

This saw regular five-eighth Barrett move from fullback to run the cutter as the Hurricanes attack took a different shape.

Too often throughout the game the Hurricanes were their own worst enemy though as they gave away nine penalties during the first hour of play, which blunted their momentum and never allowed them to take control of the contest.

Eventually, the Hurricanes' persistent offending hurt them as lock James Broadhurst was given a yellow card in the 73rd minute and didn't return for the rest of the contest.
The game was played with plenty of niggle from both sides and it twice threatened to boil over in to an all-in brawl but the handbags at 10 paces never escalated.

In the end, the Hurricanes battled their way to the points but it was a much tougher slog than it needed to be.

The Hurricanes host the Stormers in Palmerston North next Friday night while the Force head to Canberra to meet the Brumbies next Saturday.

Hurricanes 22 (Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Brad Shields, Tusi Pisi tries; Beauden Barrett pen, 2 con) Western Force 16 (Alby Mathewson try; Jayden Hayward 3 pens, con) HT: 15-3

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