Hurricanes kick Blues off field in Super 14 opener

The Hurricanes slotted a record nine successful penalty kicks and scored 22 unanswered points to beat the Auckland Blues 34-20 in the opening Super 14 match of the 2010 season on Friday.

Flyhalf Willie Ripia (five) and scrumhalf Piri Weepu (four) kicked the penalties for the visiting Hurricanes while Hosea Gear scored an intercept try following an awful pass from new Blues flyhalf Stephen Brett. Brett, who moved from the Crusaders following the return to Super 14 of All Blacks flyhalf Daniel Carter after his sabbatical in France, scored the 2010 competition’s opening try after just five minutes, set up John Afoa’s try and kicked 10 points in the first half.

He spoiled his copybook, however, in the second with the intercept pass, a charge-down that led to another penalty and poor tactical kicking.

The Blues also gave away too many penalties within kicking distance, particularly in the second half when the Hurricanes stamped their authority on the match at North Harbour Stadium.

Blues centre Isaia Toeava was also sin-binned by referee Stuart Dickenson in the 70th minute for a professional foul.

“We were a little bit nervous in the first half, but we got our act together in the second half and put a pretty good perfromance in,” Hurricanes captain Andrew Hore said in a televised interview.

Ripia opened the scoring before Brett scored the first try when he took a flat pass from former Hurricanes scrumhalf Alby Mathewson and ghosted through.

Brett converted from in front and after Ripia slotted his second penalty to narrow the gap to 7-6 he added his first penalty then set up Afoa’s second career Super rugby try following some superb continuity by the Blues. Brett converted to make it 17-6 in the 19th minute before the Hurricanes began to get into penalty range, with Ripia adding two further penalties while also missing two other opportunities.

Brett added his second penalty to make it 20-12 at the break.

Ripia opened the scoring in the second half with his fifth penalty before Brett threw an awful pass straight to Gear who ran unopposed 55 metres to score under the posts.

Weepu converted to give his side the lead for the first time since the third minute then added four further penalties.

“We let the Hurricanes back in with all those penalties in the first half and weren’t able to build any pressure, but in the second half it just wasn’t good enough,” Blues captain Keven Mealamu said.—Reuters

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