Few saw this coming.
We predicted the Hurricanes would secure a bonus point win in Wellington, but not that the score would be tied at 22-all with just 15 minutes to run and that the home side would be all at sea offensively. As it transpired, they scored three late tries to blow out the final scoreline, which was flattering to them. But they have moved back into second place in the New Zealand conference, at least until the Chiefs (probably) beat the Reds on Saturday night.
The Stormers, having leaked 57 points in each of their last two outings on New Zealand shores, decided to muscle up on defence and pour some set-piece heat on the Hurricanes. The lineout drive was a weapon. Marshalled by captain Siya Kolisi, the visitors kicked their goals, made their tackles and forced the Hurricanes into errors and persistent infringements for which referee Glen Jackson pinged them mercilessly.
Much of the pre-match talk was of how big the Stormers' pack was, and they certainly drained the home forwards of energy. The Hurricanes backs could get little productive going, though Ngani Laumape's brace raised him to 11 for the season, leading the competition.
As it was, the Beauden Barrett cross-kick was again the Hurricanes' most potent attacking weapon, yielding three first half tries and one in the second, in the process exposing the short Stormers' backline defence line.
Jordie Barrett struggled off the tee, but scored two tries and showed his full array of skills, which included stripping Stormers' flanker Nizaam Carr of the ball for a bizarre try in the in-goal. Maybe now is the time, however, to hand back the tee to older brother.
Similarly impressive was Brad Shields. If Shields is not featuring in All Blacks loose forward conversations, then he should be. The industrious No 6 powered through the work and was a sought after presence at No 2 in the lineout as the Hurricanes looked good for patches of the first half before falling off their game. He also played a small but important part in the first try, to right wing Cory Jane, charging down a clearance and tapping the ball onto second five Laumape. However, he did cop a second stanza yellow card for collapsing a Stormers' maul. But with injuries to Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino, Shields is keeping his name out there.
Next Saturday the Hurricanes travel to Christchurch to face the Crusaders, while the Stormers, still well atop the Africa 1 conference, will lick their wounds and regroup on the bye week.
Hurricanes 41 (Jordie Barrett 2, Ngani Laumape 2, Cory Jane, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett tries; J. Barrett 3 con)
Stormers 22 (Ramone Samuels try; Robert du Preez con, pen; SP Marais 4 pen)