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22 Feb 2008 11:31
Discarded All Black Ma’a Nonu scored the match-winning try as a second-half surge carried the Wellington Hurricanes to a 23-18 win over the Queensland Reds on Friday.
Although unwanted for last year’s World Cup campaign, Nonu proved he is still one of the most damaging outside backs in the business.
He was the constant counter-attack weapon for the Hurricanes as they struggled through the first 40 minutes and then scored the game-breaking try in the second half.
The Hurricanes started slowly and trailed 10-13 at half-time, but they gathered strength as the match wore on to claim their first points of the season.
It was match with a high error rate and the Reds had reason to believe they would break their 11-year losing streak at Westpac Stadium as they capitalised on a high Hurricanes turnover count.
They were up 10-0 after 14 minutes from an early penalty by Clinton Schifcofske, who then converted a try by lock Van Humphries.
The Hurricanes began to work their way into the game but lacked structure and even their first try, while entertaining, was more the result of luck.
Queensland flyhalf Berrick Barnes spilled the ball from a free kick inside the Hurricanes’ 22 and the clearing kick from his opposite number, Jimmy Gopperth, failed to find touch.
Instead it bounced awkwardly for Reds wing Digby Ioane and was snatched by Hurricanes wing Hosea Gear, who sent Tane Tu’ipulotu off to the tryline to complete the end-to-end move.
Gopperth converted and then traded penalties with Schifcofske to complete the first half scoring.
The Hurricanes levelled the scores with another Gopperth penalty early in the second half and then hit the front with another move that swept the length of the field.
Piri Weepu made the initial break and the ball passed through Chris Masoe and Gopperth before the ever-threatening Nonu completed the move with a try under the posts.
Gopperth landed the conversion and another penalty to put the Hurricanes out to 23-13 before Reds captain John Roe scored late in the game to narrow the gap to five points and earn his side a bonus point.—AFP
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