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Aisle Be Back: Hurricanes v Reds

  • By Kevin McCarthy

Out of the blocks and as usual you can frame the top of the table, which at this early stage shows the Hurricanes on top, and the Crusaders well, languishing.

Admittedly, the Force in Perth is not the Chiefs in the Tron but that’s just quibbling folks!

It may be tempting to think these early matches are no big deal, but really, they’re as important as those clutch matches late in the tournament when everything counts in the jostle for position.

So, I’d really like to make the case for bonus points – the onus on the bonus, let’s say.

Those points are scored with either a win with a margin of three tries over those scored against (good bonus), or losing within 7 (bad bonus, but we’ll take it).

Let’s be perfectly clear, nothing beats actually winning as regards building table points.

But the bonus points are there, and I always feel cheated when the Hurricanes let one slip. You know the feeling, they blow out to three tries clear by halftime or some such, then the opposition (who do have a say) get back through some soft defending. The Canes eventually score again, but come away without the bonus, or have to scramble like hell to get one in the 81st minute.

In 2023, the Hurricanes scored 5 bonus points (which is actually the average number of BP scored across the whole twelve teams). But everyone in the four league spots above them did better than that.

It is true that if the Hurricanes had scored more bonus points, they would still have finished fifth. To their arch nemesis, the Brumbies. The gap on the table was 5 points.

But in round 10 last year, the Canes scored a meritorious win at home over the Brumbies. 32 to 27.

However, with 10 or some minutes to go, the visitors were trailing by 13.  They scored an unconverted try in the 76th minute, and then an 81st minute penalty goal. That got them a bonus point.

If they hadn’t – and the Hurricanes had scored one more regular season win – they’d have tied up on the table with the Brumbies in deciding fourth and fifth. And in fact, given they had massive advantage in points differential, the quarter would have been in Wellington, not Canberra.

Now any season is full of such sliding door moments but minimising them would seem to me to be a desirable thing.

If you look at the top sides, they do better on BPs than the Canes in recent years. The Crusaders notched up eight, three more than our guys. Or around 16 per cent of their total league points. The Canes BPs contributed about 12 per cent of their league points.

Of course, winning a lot overall tends to produce BPs as a by-product. That’s the ideal, but the Canes can bend their season trajectory by being ruthless in nailing BPs and in denying them to the opposition.

Or in other words, if it’s good enough for the champions, then why shouldn’t it be good enough for us.

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All hail Jordie  Barrett, as he lines up his 100th game for the side this weekend against the Reds.

Now even more so the centrepiece of the backline, if Jordie plays well, so do the Canes.

Funny to remember his first few games in that light.

This tall, ungainly guy who fumbled his way through – clearly nervous as you’d expect.

But the gangly young giraffe is long gone.

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The Hurricanes have beaten the Reds in their past seven encounters, going back a decade and by an average score of 36-19. The Reds last beat the Hurricanes in 2013, 18-13. Last year the Hurricanes prevailed 47-13 in Townsville.

Kick-off is 6.30pm NZT on Sunday.

The Hurricanes team is below:

  1. Xavier Numia
  2. Asafo Aumua (cc)
  3. Tyrel Lomax
  4. Caleb Delany
  5. Isaia Walker-Leawere
  6. TK Howden
  7. Peter Lakai
  8. Brayden Iose
  9. Cam Roigard
  10. Brett Cameron
  11. Kini Naholo
  12. Jordie Barrett (cc) (100th game)
  13. Billy Proctor
  14. Josh Moorby
  15. Ruben Love

Replacements

  1. James O’Reilly
  2. Pouri Rakete-Stones
  3. Pasilio Tosi
  4. Justin Sangster
  5. Veveni Lasaqa (Debut)
  6. Jordi Viljoen
  7. Riley Higgins
  8. Salesi Rayasi

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