An early drop ball by the Hurricanes deep in their half was not the perfect start they were looking for as they hosted the Auckland Blues in round 5 of the 2015 Super 15.Unphased by a lack of concentration was immediately forgotten and with that short set back the Canes took control of the 1st 20 minutes of the first half and though the Blues had control of the ball for short periods within those dominated 20 minutes by the Canes they could not use that advantage to good effect either through miscalculated passes or just simple basic play which seemed to be hurting their chances when good ball became available.
As play ventured into Auckland terroitory the Canes constant pressure started to take control with sniping runs down the short side in close quarters or quick release off loads from the Canes backs which eventually took its toll on the Blues defense and with that pressure a penalty was awarded for lack of or to slow to hide foul play.Step up Beaudine Barrett and 3 easy points as the ball sails through the uprights.Restart and again their was no mistake this time and with a blink of an eye the host were back on attack hard inside the Blues territory this time igniting their backline with accuracy,speed and percision and who should be appearing in the frame none other then debutant Nehe Milner Skudder at 15 coasting through a weak defense just to off load for All Black winger Julian Savea to score.A missed conversion by Barrett but 8-0 in 11 minutes was a comfortable lead.
Back for another restart and though the Blues lack of defense seemed a non event so far they overtunred the ball regrouped and for a brief moment had the Canes on the back foot only to knock the ball on in the final pass as the try line looked inviting but no points to show through all the hard yards gained.15 minutes had flown by and the Canes again gain back a little control and used that short burst of energy to get close to the Auckland try line and with more pressure being piled on another infringement had Barrett shooting for 3 more easy points and now it was 11-0 with already 22 minutes gone on the clock.
Auckland looked out of place and they needed to mussle up and start making better decisions and more accuracy in their execution to compete with the Canes.Auckland needed to have the ball in hand if they were to ignite their talented young backline and for the next 18 minutes the Canes went off the ball and the Blues started to apply the exact same pressure they were receiving in their earlier exchanges and with a better control of the ball in hand 2 tries were sccored in succession and all of a sudden it was 14-11 to the visitors and confidence was installed back into the Blues team.
This time it was the Canes to retsart and with that Ihaia West at 1st 5 put a raking punt back into Canes country and the pressure was right back on the host.It wasn't long before the Blues were to register another scoring opportunity with an infringement by the Canes which West glady accepted and the score line was 17-11 and with the half time hooter ready to sound off it looked the half time lead was all Blues until a lack of concentration by the Blues at scrum time and quick passage of ball skills saw the Canes gain back the lead 18-17 and go with the half time lead.Welcome the 2nd half and it was all on as both teams exchanged good play but no one in particular was going to chance their hand just yet as the game was turning into a close tussle.
First points on the score board came by way of the boot of Blues 1st 5 West and they were back in front again 20-18 and West 100% kicking record was keeping the Blues in the game with 4 out 4 shots at goal.Play from both teams was starting to develope into who wanted the win the most and for 20 minutes shared position and territory this game was going down to the wire.
Another penalty to the Blues from 50 metres out and again West was on target to keep his 100% goal kicking record at 5 from 5 and the Blues extended that little gap by 5 points with a 23-18 lead.By now the pressure was back on the Canes and they were not about to disappoint their fans just yet as they too regrouped to assault the Blues try line in the last 10 minutes of the 2nd half.Holding onto the ball was the key and it paid off with a 3rd try to the Canes and the lead changed hands once again 25-23 and with only a few minutes on the clock the Blues tried every trick in the book to gain momentumn only to loose control of the ball and the Hurricanes pounced and scored a 4th try and a bonus point to secure the win 30-23.
A tight game with Auckland missing crucial scoring opportunities and the Canes making the visitors pay when it mattered.In the tight the Blues front row of Faumuina,Parsons and the return of Woodcock were tireless in their work rate with Faumuina showing not only is he good in the close exchanges but displayed his ball skills with fine control.
Their opposition expressed the same desire with Reggie Goodes also making fine touches with the ball in hand.Dane Coles the Cane hooker and current All Blacks hooker showed his class again and to compliment all their hard work up front Nonu and Smith showed why theyare the best inside pairing in world rugby.
As for debutant Nehe Milner Skudder his 1st up appearance was encouring and he will learn as the season progresses.[quote]Julian Savea is playing top class rugby and remains on track to cement his spot on the All Black team[/quote] and his little brother Ardie Savea is delivering the goods and if he keeps that good form in tact he too could be seen joining his big brother in the All Black line up..Well done both teams.