Another comfortable victory, this their eighth in succession, but the best is yet to come from the Hurricanes.

The story of their season thus far has been good, not great. Not where they want, or will need, to be.

The match against the Lions in Wellington was another example. The Hurricanes did enough, what they had to, against a Lions side that aren't the formidable team they once were yet still lead the South African conference.

Last week the Hurricanes waited until the final 10 minutes to blow away the Sunwolves.

While never in danger of losing, this victory was another patchy effort which left plenty of room for improvement. The final quarter especially will not be pleasant reviewing for Chris Boyd, with the skill level fast disintegrating and the scrum struggling.


That the Lions never really threatened the Hurricanes and Boyd will be far from satisfied says everything about a team already considered title favourites. The Hurricanes have much more in them but the switch needs to be soon flicked.

Ben Lam's hat-trick further pushed his case for an All Blacks call-up and the Hurricanes two points behind the Crusaders, but in a strong position with a game in hand, in the fight for pole spot.

Once again, Lam displayed his brilliant finishing qualities. His third try - 12th for the season - saw the Hurricanes combine width, depth, support play and supreme draw and pass skills from almost the entire team.

It proved a brief moment of magic in an otherwise unmemorable fixture.

After Lam's third the Hurricanes immediately clocked off; failed to secure the restart and conceded a try.

It's these concentration lapses and frustrating rough edges which need fixing before the business end of the season arrives.

You get the sense the Hurricanes need a challenge. When in control, when it all comes a little too easy, elements of their game go missing.

Since losing to the Bulls in their opening match they have shown when a New Zealand team is put in-front of them, they rise to the required level.


Getting to that level consistently they have not yet mastered, though.

TJ Perenara's return from a knee knock in the coming weeks will certainly help regain cohesion and continuity.

The absence of Perenara's influence and control from the base has been clear with Finlay Christie often slow to pick his options.

In this match, one quick tap from Christie cost the Hurricanes a prime attacking chance and one wild pass led to the Lions closing the gap to 14-7 at halftime. The visitors didn't deserve to be that close.

The Hurricanes were also consistently beaten at the breakdown; the Lions snaffling four first half turnovers alone – many of those near their own line.

This limited the Hurricanes ability to build pressure through phases and so they relied on individual brilliance from Lam and Matt Proctor to enforce their advantage.

Lions wing Ruan Combrink was the guilty culprit in those two tries with weak attempted tackles.

Losing Springboks hooker Malcolm Marx to injury inside 10 minutes sure didn't help the Lions. From there, their lineout battled to gel, and they offered very little on attack.

Ardie Savea, Vaea Fifita and Michael Fatialofa were all prominent with ball in hand and, in typically blustery conditions, Beauden Barrett put on a goal kicking clinic, converting all four of the Canes' tries.

Some allowances can be made after Jordie Barrett's late withdrawal due to an ankle injury pushed Nehe Milner-Skudder from the reserves to start at fullback. The Hurricanes also lost prop Ben May late.

But these are excuses. Behind closed doors, the Canes will release tougher tests await and much more polish is needed.

Hurricanes 28 (Ben Lam 3, Ardie Savea tries; Beauden Barrett 4 cons)
Lions 19 (Nic Groom, Marnus Schoeman, Sylvian Mahuza tries; Elton Jantjies 2 cons)
HT: 14-7