Heart in mouth stuff as Beauden Barrett gets Hurricanes out of strife
Fans might have had their hearts in their mouths, but TJ Perenara? Well, he didn't bat an eyelid.
The Hurricanes captain has been there, done that with Beauden Barrett.
Where the rest of us saw an outrageous, potentially fatal brain explosion from Barrett, Perenara saw a sound percentage play to wrap up a routine 41-22 Super Rugby win over the Stormers at Westpac Stadium on Friday night.
With a 14-man Hurricanes side hard on their own line and grimly hanging on to a 27-22 lead, Barrett opted to crosskick. It seemed mad until wing Julian Savea scorched downfield, offloaded and Ngani Laumape went in to score.
From staring down the barrel of defeat, the Hurricanes were suddenly 34-22 up and they sealed victory when Barrett dotted down after the final hooter.
The whole match had turned, though, on the crosskick.
The big players get the big bucks to make the big plays in the big moments but, boy, that still takes nerve. Or at least it looks like it does to us armchair experts.
"The way they were defending, they shut down us running short. They had a guy in the backfield on the other side of the field to stop our kicking game, so our only real option outside of a crossfield kick was kicking it out 20 metres and that's what they wanted," Perenara explained.
"They'd been going to mauls all day so us turning the ball over in a wide channel's probably a better option than giving them a lineout maul 20 metres out from our own line."
The Hurricanes hadn't set out to score four of their eventual seven tries from Beauden Barrett crosskicks. But, as head coach Chris Boyd noted, you play what's in front of you and the Stormers' defensive structure made those kicks the smart and obvious options.
It certainly made for a thrilling finale to what had often been a pig of a match for the home side.
"We've got to trust our instincts and trust our skills. Sometimes it might not work, but I'd rather us try [something] and live with those consequences rather than kick a ball out 20 metres and give them what they actually want," said Perenara.
Cory Jane, Julian Savea, Jordie Barrett and Laumape all went over from Beauden Barrett's kicks. Jordie Barrett bagged another from a Perenara grubber kick, while Laumape and then Beauden Barrett both burrowed over from close range.
Laumape's first try, in the 64th minute, had actually been quite important after the Stormers had got back to 22-22. The Hurricanes were really battling at that point, as much with referee Glen Jackson as themselves or the Stormers.
If anyone seemed destined to kick on and win at that point, it was the visitors.
"The boys are a bit grumpy actually. Somebody just said [in the dressing room] you've just won by 40-something to 22, seven tries to one, don't forget that," Boyd said.
"But there's some parts of that game that we're not happy with."
Not only didn't the Hurricanes lose, though, they won and with the all-important bonus point to boot. They had Beauden Barrett's vision and skill to thank for it.
Hurricanes 41 (Jordie Barrett 2, Ngani Laumape 2, Cory Jane, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett tries; Jordie Barrett 3 con) Stormers 22 (Ramone Samuels try; Robert du Preez pen, con, SP Marais 4 pen). HJT: 22-16.