Hurricanes must learn to play to their strengths

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 01/04/2013
Conrad Smith
KENT BLECHYNDEN/FAIRFAX NZ
TRY TIME: Conrad Smith goes in to score for the Hurricanes.

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Strange as it sounds, set piece and structure are fast becoming the Hurricanes' greatest strength this season.

Hence there will be some nervousness about the health of lock Jeremy Thrush and hooker Dane Coles who suffered respective ankle and thumb injuries during Saturday's 46-30 win over the Kings.

X-rays have cleared the pair of breaks but it was not clear last night how long either will be on the sidelines.

The Hurricanes have worked their way into seventh place on the Super Rugby standings, ahead of the Blues in the New Zealand conference and just two points shy of the Crusaders.

But what has become clear in the wake of their third straight win, is the Hurricanes want to shed their helter-skelter tendencies when they host the Waratahs on Saturday.

"We just have to learn how to play when we need to get back into a game," first five eighth Beauden Barrett said.

"The idea is right but not the execution. We try to slow things down, cut out the fifty-fifty passes. We say all the right things but it's just infectious, I think."

Barrett was lamenting the team's inability to put the Kings away after scoring four first half tries to lead 27-16.

Notably five of the team's six tries were built directly from either a scrum or lineout. They were constructed from wide strikes in the backs, followed by strong carries and patience from the pack.

On three occasions wings Alapati Leiua, a stand-out on the day, and Julian Savea provided the impetus before their pack created space through straight, hard running.

Only Leiua's intercept bucked that trend, but in between the Hurricanes pushed passes across the field, muddled behind the advantage line and gave away silly penalties.

It's a recurring theme for a team that seems to still want to revert back to the expansive high risk style they played last year rather than a simple philosophy that seems to work well for the current crop.

So, though happy with the five points, there was a distinct lack of satisfaction among the Hurricanes players as they pondered the win.

"It's disappointing because we talked about it all week that we couldn't take them lightly, that we needed to be direct and take it to them," try-scoring prop Ben May said.

"We are our own worst enemy at times. The Kings pushed us to the touch line and we actually went out quite a few times and silly stuff like that.

"I don't think Hammer [coach Mark Hammett] will be too happy with that, so it's back to the drawing board this week.

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"We're happy because to get those last two tries we went back to that direct style of play but if we'd stayed with that for the whole game imagine what could happen."

Hammett will be keen to turn the imagery into reality and hope the hard working Thrush and Coles are around to help out. The Hurricanes already have one injury concern at hooker with Ash Dixon pulling out of the Kings match with a sore shoulder.

Hammett has some selection luxuries to ponder with loose forwards Ardie Savea and Jack Lam both now fresh, fit and available. No 8 Victor Vito came off during the Kings match as a precaution due to a a tight calf.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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