Hurricanes 29 Reds 14

It's hard to know what to make of these Hurricanes, who continue to look like beaten finalists one moment and just plain beaten the next.

The latter appearance was more prevalent in tonight's win over the Reds in Wellington, when the home side made hard work of a team who have troubled few this season.

While enjoying a couple of moments of real quality, the Hurricanes were far more often deficient when they had the chance to unleash an attack absent of some big names but still brimming with game-breakers.

Given they were missing the curfew-breaking quintet, it would be problematic to assign too much meaning to a largely underwhelming performance, were it not for the fact it continued a troubling trend. The Hurricanes were nowhere near as bad as in last week's shocking loss against the Sharks but they were still well short of the side who thumped the Lions the previous week.


Chris Boyd's men have much to work on over their bye week, facing a replay of last year's final in a fortnight's time. Tonight's bonus-point victory mean they trail the Highlanders by a solitary point but, based on recent evidence, the gap between the teams is much more substantial.

One of the chief areas for improvement would be the way they regard the ball. While the Hurricanes were good tonight when they busted tackles and used pace to find space in the broken field, they were much more efficient when they opted instead to play with patience.

Too often, when they punctured the Reds' defensive line, turnovers would be the end result and spoil what had come before, leaving the home side struggling to find real control.

In a first half that featured no shortage of half-chances, a couple of clinical moments saw the Hurricanes come close to separating themselves. Beauden Barrett's brilliant crossfield kick and debutant Wes Goosen's equally impressive grab were spectacular to watch, but the devastating lineout drive for Dane Coles' try was more reflective of what was working best.

The Hurricanes again operated from a solid set piece when Ngani Laumape crossed for his side's fourth to effectively seal the result, with the periods in between spent searching in vein for more continuity and, to be fair, defending well to stamp out the Reds' hopes.

The visitors' ball-handling wasn't any better than their opponents' and, although Chris Feauai-Sautia's angling run was their only moment of joy, they would have been left frustrated at lost opportunities.

They could have recorded a couple dynamic tries of their own if not for inaccuracy at the vital moments, showing more enterprise in the opening quarter alone than they managed in the entirety of last week's dispiriting loss to the Crusaders.

A feeling the Reds were their own worst enemies was exemplified by the brace they gifted Jason Woodward and, in the end, the Hurricanes were probably grateful for the assist, banishing an eventful week but no questions about their prospects of repeating last year's final berth.

Hurricanes 29 (W. Goosen, D. Coles, J. Woodward 2, N. Laumape tries; B. Barrett 2 cons)
Reds 14 (C. Feauai-Sautia try; A. Goromaru 3 pens)
Halftime: 12-6