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Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett was prepared to overlook some defensive shortcomings as his side eeked out a gutsy 47-45 win against the Melbourne Rebels in a high-scoring preseason affair in Geelong last night.
"The guys have had a huge training week. They were really fatigued, so the energy levels, particularly on defence, weren't quite there," Hammett said as both teams scored seven tries.
"But our attack was good, the set piece work went up from last week and I was happy with our patterns and understanding."
Crucially the Canes escaped without any major injuries and Hammett had the pleasure of watching All Blacks loosie Victor Vito get through a full 80 minutes while fell9ow international Beauden Barrett played 20 minutes at fullback and the last quarter in the No 10 jersey.
The Canes conceded three early tries but showed plenty of character to come back and record their second win after a 27-26 effort against the Crusaders last week. They play the Chiefs in their last warmup next weekend.
The Rebels will be sweating over Wallabies star James O'Connor who needed 18 stitches to a cut mouth ahead of Friday night's season-opener against the western Force in Melbourne.
The Rebels opened the scoring within four minutes with a try to centre Rory Sidey.
Running with the aid of the breeze, the home team had extended their lead to 19-0 within 14 minutes following further tries to new skipper Gareth Delve and hooker Ged Robinson.
Lock James Broadhurst put the Hurricanes on the board with his team's first try in the 22nd minute and the visitors shaded the remainder of the opening half to only trail 33-28 at the break.
O'Connor did not reappear for the second half after being sent to the bloodbin, although there was no suggestion of foul play.
His replacement at fullback, Richard Kingi, scored the Rebels' seventh and last try of the match.
But it was the 66th-minute five-pointer by Hurricanes halfback Chris Smylie which proved decisive.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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