Hurricanes remain undefeated with emphatic win over Drua

Hurricanes remain undefeated with emphatic win over Drua

Anyone doubting the Hurricanes as Super Rugby Pacific championship contenders only needs to look back at their win over the Fijian Drua in Suva to see their credentials.

In their 38-15 win on Friday night, the Hurricanes showed their full toolkit as they were forced to adapt to a game in which the pendulum swung dramatically.

From periods of relentless pressure to spending the vast majority of the second half tackling and enduring a 10-minute stint with two men in the sin bin, then ending the game a man down, it all culminated in the Hurricanes handing the Drua their first loss on home soil this season.

Recently re-signed Jordie Barrett put in an immense shift in the midfield; making plenty of important tackles as the Drua looked to storm through the Hurricanes line, while he was equally involved when the Hurricanes did have the ball in their hands and in chasing kicks downfield. Captain Brad Shields led by example defensively, while lock Ben Grant was impressive on debut as he racked up a high tackle count and was a factor at the lineout on both teams’ throws.

It wasn’t the prettiest win the Hurricanes will have this season - they were on the wrong side of a 15-4 penalty count and made more than 220 tackles while the Drua made less than 60 - but it proved the mettle of Clark Laidlaw’s team.

The Hurricanes are now unbeaten in eight games this season – the best start the franchise has made to a Super Rugby season.

“I don’t have many words after that,” Shields said after the game.

“We talked about it all week that it was going to be the effort early. We didn’t think we’d be down to 13, but it does show good character. The way we held it together on the try line, the way we put it together on D, I’m just really proud of our effort.

“It was an unreal challenge and it was good to come away on the good side.”

The result did come with at least one concern for the Hurricanes, however, as hooker Asafo Aumua had to be helped off the pitch with about 20 minutes remaining after sustaining a leg injury. First five-eighth Aidan Morgan was also forced off the pitch – just five minutes in - due to injury but returned soon after with a unique tape job around his head and over the bridge of his nose and was able to see out the rest of the game.

The Hurricanes opened with relentless pressure from through the opening six minutes, hitting paydirt when the Drua couldn’t clean up a Salesi Rayasi chip, and T.J. Perenara smartly finds Billy Proctor to waltz over in the seventh minute.

The Drua hit back almost immediately as Iosefo Masi charges through the line before moving the ball on to Isikeli Rabitu for the try. A mistake from the Drua on a goal-line drop out saw Devan Flanders go over easily off the back of the scrum to get the lead back for the Hurricanes, before Jordie Barrett and James O’Reilly crossed just prior to halftime to give the side a comfortable lead at the break.

The second half was largely one-way traffic, with the Drua spending the stanza running at the Hurricanes and forcing the visitors’ tackle count to blow up.

The hosts did strike through a lineout drive after the Hurricanes committed two jumpers to it which left them vulnerable, but they didn’t have any more success in breaking the Hurricanes defences.

Even when Du’Plessis Kirifi and Isaia Walker-Leawere were sin-binned within a couple of minutes of each other, and Caleb Delany ended the game in the bin, the Hurricanes stood strong.

They ultimately had the last say, too, with Xavier Numia burrowing over from close range.


Hurricanes 38 (Billy Proctor, Devan Flanders, Jordie Barrett, James O’Reilly, Xavier Numia tries; Aidan Morgan 4 cons, Barrett con, pen

Fijian Drua 15 (Isikeli Rabitu, Kitione Salawa tries; Kemu Valetini con, pen)

HT: 28-7

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