With three Super Rugby Pacific semifinals already selected, the battle for last place was in cool Canberra.
La Hurricanes visited the home of the Brumbies and both teams returned to experience in the knockout realm, especially in the front row where Owen Franks and Dane Coles received the call for the Kiwi side.
Everything was at bay with everyone but the kitchen sink thrown away; it was viscerally physical when the Canes built a lead on the foundation of Barrett’s boot.
Two players were carded for high shots; Ikitau got red and Franks was flushed yellow. After Frank exploded the Brumbies got their maul machine on fire but the Hurricanes regained the lead 22-15 at the break.
In the second half, the Canes lost their way with decisive experience in the form of Coles, Frank and TJ Perenara all leaving the park. Various young men in gold then turned to drag their team into the mud but it ended 35-25 to the Brumbies, where the Hurricanes only grabbed three points in the second half.
This is how the Hurricanes estimated:
1. Tevita Mafileo – 6/10
The sturdy backrest felt his presence at the breakdown. With minimal handcuffs, there was plenty of gas in the tank for collisions at the gear and Mafileo won all his contests. Out at 61.
2. Dane Coles – 6.5
He joined Brodie Retallick swing “pick me!” flag at the All Black selectors. A measured, professional outing where he did everything right with maximum impact. When he trotted out at 55, the rot seemed to be really starting.
3. Owen Franks – 5.5
Old Frank made little mistake Noa Lolesio and if it was for the crowd, he would be gone forever – but only got the yellow. Back for the first handball in the 37th minute, that could be a record! Out at 48.
4. James Blackwell – 5.5
Business as usual, hardworking and accurate. It remains to be seen if he can have a 1.90cm key in professional rugby – although he has made three lineout shots. Called offside at 59 for a valuable Brumbies quarterback.
5. Isaiah Walker-Leawere – 6
Pinged in the fifth minute in the lineup but the body was huge in the carry, reaching double digits in the first quarter. Nor could he wipe the smile from his face, though he blinked early. Removed at 55.
6. Blake Gibson – 6
Leading lineout taker at the front for his team and made some very wise decisions during the match; well anticipated. Good to see him have an extended period, which never happened when he played in blue. A very good rugby player who has so far, unfortunately, never fulfilled his enormous potential.
7. Du’Plessis Kirifi – 5.5
Mixing bag, as usual. Punished in the seventh minute in the tackle. Ford gave up three points but got one back a minute later, also made a good try-saving turnover in the 46th minute. Maybe just a little one-dimensional. Removed at 68.
8. Ardie Savea – 6
He looked a little tired even though he was pumping 16 portals. Didn’t have the edge we usually see from him and couldn’t just turn his team’s slide into the second half. High expectations, maybe – but he’s done it before.
9. TJ Perenara – 5.5
150. Great rugby start for Perenara and got a small twist in his leg in the first few minutes. He was quite lively though and his service and passing action seem to have accelerated. Out at 61.
10. Aidan Morgan – 6
Received a mouthful of Ikitau shoulder at 22 minutes. The top 10 had some good moves from the backfield and is growing into the role on the offensive line. It is necessary to prolong his blow a little but one for the future.
11. Salesi Rayasi – 6
There was a lot to love about the first hour of the wing but it fell pretty fast after that. He went to look for work, first with his thunderous push from his left foot. Then early in the second half, we saw him appear frequently – especially on the right side – and he ended up as the main carrier for his team. Tom Banks went around him a few times – most notably for the 65th minute try. He also lost possession more than once with a ball in his hand. Then finish him and his team off, a brain explosion; his kick was charged down, he played the ball on the ground and was yellow-carded for the rest of the match.
12. Jordie Barrett – 7.5
Barrett showed what he brings to matches that major with five thunderbolts. He also seemed to have some extracurricular training from Brother Beaudy, with the beauty of a cross kick for Moorby’s first try. A major defensive lapse as he slipped from Simone for his try and his HIA in the 58th was the death knell for his team.
13. Billy Proctor – 5.5
He’s the Blackwell of the backs, a good worker-like performance with solid straight runs in midfield and a nice slide to Moorby for his second try.
14. Julian Savea – 4.5
The big bus was having problems with the gearbox at high speeds tonight, had a few noises but needed the Hulk mode in the last 20. Out at 72.
15. Josh Moorby – 6.5
Two beautiful tries in the 17th and 40th minutes showed his rhythm and finishing ability. However, made a shock of a kick out on the full at 62 to give the Brumbies an attacking lineup and hammer another nail into the Hurricanes coffin.
16. Asafo Aumua – 4
On at 55 and expected more from an All Black wannabe who needed a great game.
17. Rotten Rocket Stones – 5
On at 61. Some nice runs but couldn’t change the dial.
18. Tyrel Lomax – 5.5
On at 48. Had some good periods in the open. Just a few slaps.
19. Caleb Delany – 4
On at 55. Ineffective.
20. Braydon Iose – 5.5
On at 68. He’s a great athlete but couldn’t break a firm defense of Brumbies.
21. Jamie Booth – 4.5
On at 61. Surprisingly quiet of a guy who usually lights up the wallpaper.
22. Ruben Love – N / A
Late and punished to end the match.
23. Wes Goosen – 5
On at 58 for Jordie’s HIA. He ran sideways a few times but provided no sparks.
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