Hurricanes do it hard way against Kings

TOBY ROBSON AT WESTPAC STADIUM
Last updated 05:00 31/03/2013
Conrad Smith
KENT BLECHYNDEN/FAIRFAX NZ
TRY TIME: Conrad Smith goes in to score for the Hurricanes.

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Hurricanes' coach Mark Hammett is picking the positives out of his side's win over the Kings even if some annoying old embers still need to be stamped out.

Lingering too long on the negatives would be wrong after the Hurricanes scored six tries to bank maximum points from a match they were always expected to win.

There was another big match from blindside Brad Shields, sound scrummaging, a bonus point before halftime, and a good night with the boot from Beauden Barrett.

It sets Hammett's side up nicely, three wins on the trot, rested after last week's bye, but not good enough to be complacent as they prepare to host the Waratahs next Saturday.

"The effort was fine. You saw that in defence. They were big boys carrying hard and we matched that," Hammett said. "The attitude was there but it was just individual skills around catching and passing, that sort of stuff. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with the lads."

Sort of. Hammett's mood wasn't helped by the sight of lock Jeremy Thrush hopping to an ambulance with his ankle in a moonboot, or the hand injury that forced off hooker Dane Coles.

But mostly he was frustrated that his side didn't finish a job they'd started well, instead falling asleep on a 27-16 halftime lead built on tries to Ben May, T J Perenara, Conrad Smith and Thrush.

"Obviously getting four tries in that first half and when we were deliberate we were quite good. But sometimes it happens when you get leads and feel like you are well on top of it you don't quite put the screws in. We ran out three times and that's a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but sometimes it also shows we aren't prepared to work hard enough."

The Hurricanes talked all week of how the Kings would not roll over and the boys from Port Elizabeth never did, showing they are courageous if not yet top drawer. Frustrating then that in front of a 15,103-strong home crowd the home side didn't bank the result till Shields ran 25 metres down the blindside for his first Super Rugby try with 15 minutes to play.

Until then Captain Smith had been having flashbacks to last year's capitulation against the Cheetahs with the score closing to 29-23.

Instead, the Hurricanes regained their composure just enough to close out the match, an Alapati Leiua intercept try giving them some breathing space.

The issue was they smelled blood and pushed too hard to find the holes they knew were waiting.

The Kings' defence was porous early and tight head prop May waded through several flimsy tackle attempts to score the game's first try after less than three minutes, his first in Super Rugby.

The Kings grabbed a try to lock Steven Sykes, but the signs were ominous.

The Hurricanes backs were easily gaining the advantage line. Tim Bateman threw a long cut out pass to put Smith over in the corner.

Perenara's running game looked sharp even if his passing was a tad erratic and he burrowed over close to the line to make it 22-13 and Thrush capped a good half.

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But where the foot needed to be placed on the throat, hopeful and inaccurate passes created a directionless 10 minutes that ended with Kings centre Ronnie Cooke scoring the Kings' second try. It gave the visitor's a real sniff and created a tough 25 minutes Hammett could have done without.

- Sunday Star Times

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