Hurricanes play fast and loose for starters

CRUNCH TIME: Ben Franks, of the Hurricanes, is tackled by Gareth Delve, of the Rebels.
CRUNCH TIME: Ben Franks, of the Hurricanes, is tackled by Gareth Delve, of the Rebels.

Two weeks, two wins, 74 points and 12 tries scored - the Hurricanes' pre-season campaign would be more impressive if the opposition's scoresheet wasn't similar.

Coach Mark Hammett is satisfied his side is on the right track after a 47-45 win over the Melbourne Rebels in Geelong on Saturday.

There were seven tries in all with wing Matt Proctor grabbing a brace as the Hurricanes gave the ball plenty of air to come back from an early 19-5 deficit.

Loose forwards Ardie Savea and Karl Lowe, lock James Broadhurst, and centre Rey LeeLo also crossed the line before halfback TJ Perenara scored the winner after 66 minutes.

With no new injuries, and the pending return of loose forward Brad Shields from a knee injury, the positives undoubtedly outweigh the negatives.

But aren't the 11 tries and 71 points conceded a concern?

"Naturally we are [concerned]. Some of the points we've let in through the last few weeks have come from intercepts and turnovers where we've maybe pushed the pass too much," Hammett said yesterday.

"When you get some turnovers at the ruck you start looking at body position and intensity, but actually that was pretty good.

"We made a lot of half breaks and got offloads away but the person offloading was also tackled and we ran out of numbers [at the breakdown].

"That's going to happen to a team that counter-attacks very well, but we were probably a bit short of numbers on the weekend."

That came partly from a team decision to play with plenty of width and Hammett was satisfied the Hurricanes had done that to good effect.

Some soft tries early on had been a concern, but on review, the execution rather than effort had been off in the opening quarter, he said.

"I thought perhaps we were in the game for the first three or four phases in defence and attack but then we were just knocking off, but that wasn't really the case," Hammett said.

"There were a couple of intercepts, a muddled lineout and Matt Proctor perhaps [missed] a scoring opportunity where he dropped the ball. That was all in the first 15 to 20 minutes."

Hammett also pointed to a heavy schedule as a reason many teams did not defend with the same accuracy during the pre-season.

A notable feature of the Rebels match was that No 8 Victor Vito played the full 80 minutes and Hammett hinted his top side would get a decent run together against the Chiefs in Mangatainoka on Saturday.

It is hoped that will include loose forward Shields, captain Conrad Smith, and hooker Motu Matu'u.


The Dominion Post