Teams give it all in Super 15 warm-up

By Gary Caffell


Rugby

The 8000-plus fans who converged on a Mangatainoka farm paddock on Saturday got a true taste of what Super 15 rugby is all about.

It was the last hit-out before the serious business in 2013 begins for last year's champions, the Chiefs, and the Hurricanes - and the two squads weren't about to waste the opportunity.

They went at it hammers and tongs for the full 80 minutes and while it was the Chiefs who came away with the bragging rights through their 25-21 success on the scoreboard, both teams had good reason to feel they were in decent shape for what lies ahead.

That's not to say, of course, that everything went according to plan. The purists would say there were too many spilled passes and too many turnovers for either side to say they could be entirely happy with their performance, but with combinations being changed from time to time that was only to be expected.

And you also have to take into account the sheer physicality of the exchanges when weighing up the number of mistakes which occurred.

Countless big hits were made defensively and when that happens the ball will often go walkabout.

The Hurricanes had the better of the first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes but in between times it was the Chiefs who mainly called the tune, leading 10-0 at halftime after having the wind at their backs and 22-7 before a late revival by the Hurricanes had a parochial crowd on the edge of their seats.

Unfortunately for them, however, it was a case of close but no cigar. Their boys trailed by just 22-21 going into the dying stages but a penalty goal almost on fulltime sealed the victory for the Chiefs.

Even though the number of All Blacks over both teams ran into double figures it was a lesser light - albeit only slightly so - in Chiefs midfield back Tim Nanai-Williams who emerged as the leading contender for any player of the match award. His dancing feet and eye for a gap made him a constant threat on attack and he shirked nothing on the tackle either.

There was an impressive fluidity too in the combination between Tawera Kerr-Barlow at halfback and Aaron Cruden at first-five for the Chiefs, with Cruden typically relishing any chance to run the ball back at the opposition, and Gareth Anscombe, usually a first-five, made a good fist of the fullback role.

Up front for the Chiefs there was the usual tradesman-like effort from lock Craig Clarke and you had to admire the mobility of bulky props Toby Smith and Ben Tameifuna and the all-round excellence of loosie Liam Messam.

Clearly the most dangerous of the Hurricanes backs in an attacking sense was wing Julian Savea, who seldom failed to make good ground whenever the ball came his way. Skipper Conrad Smith made a successful return at centre after missing the first couple of pre-season games and it was encouraging too to see talented halfback TJ Perenara moving freely after his lengthy injury break.

Front rowers Ben Franks and Dane Coles spearheaded the Hurricanes' forward effort with Franks, especially, making several strong surges in broken play.

Victor Vito was his usual industrious self and Ardie Savea and Mark Reddish made real impact off the bench.Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Asaeli Tikorituma, Bundee Aki and Tim Nanai-Williams scored tries for the Chiefs and Gareth Anscombe kicked one penalty and one conversion.

Tries for the Hurricanes were scored by Julian Savea, Ardie Savea and Faifili Lavave, Beauden Barrett kicked one conversion and James Marshall two conversions.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a4 at 20 Apr 2014 15:14:09 Processing Time: 1190ms