Hurricanes crush Sharks in Super Rugby play-off
Despite howling wind and rain, Wellington side score six tries in 41-0 victory to cruise into last four
New Zealand's Hurricanes crushed South Africa's Coastal Sharks with a record-setting 41-0 victory to cruise into the Super Rugby semi-finals on a stormy night in Wellington on Saturday.
For the first time in the history of the southern hemisphere championship a side has been kept scoreless in a play-off match.
It is a record Sharks captain Tendai Mtawarira did not want to be part of, describing the South Africans performance as an “embarrassing effort” against the top-ranked Kiwis.
With a howling wind and rain playing havoc with ball control, the Hurricanes still managed to score six tries to none as they raced away in the second half after leading 13-0 at half-time.
However, their celebrations were tempered with captain Dane Coles taken to hospital with what appeared to be a serious rib injury.
In the foul weather, the Hurricanes cashed in on a turnover ball in the first half before TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett defied the wind and rain in the second spell to orchestrate an attacking game.
“We changed a few things with the weather, we knew we couldn’t be too expansive but we put them in the right areas of the field and our forwards being physical enough to dominate a few collisions helped us,” Perenara said.
While the Hurricanes move on to the semis, the tournament ended for the Sharks with Mtawarira saying things did not go according to plan.
“We wanted to play a territory game but the Hurricanes outclassed us,” he said.
“We made a lot of costly errors, a lot of defensive errors ... and in the end it was an embarrassing effort.”
Barrett landed one penalty and after failing to convert the first-half tries by Loni Uhila and James Marshall he was on target to land the extras when Jason Woodward, Vaea Fifita and Perenara scored in the second half.
After he was replaced along with Perenara and Victor Vito with 20 minutes remaining, Woodward took over the kicking duties to convert Brad Shields’ try at the end.
Sharks fly half Garth April had three penalty attempts in the first spell and fell victim to the unpredictable wind each time.
Prop Uhila thundered over for the first try from close range after JP Pietersen failed to gather a high kick that swirled around in the wind.
Marshall scored the second from a blindside move after the Hurricanes were gifted a scrum when a lineout delivery slithered through the hands of Sharks scrum half Michael Claasens.
Perenara was instrumental in the first two tries of the second half as he waltzed through tackles to send Woodward and then lock Fifita over.
He was then the recipient of a simple try when Uhila took a tap penalty close to the line and the big prop produced a sidestep that a back would be proud of to open up a gap for Perenara to dive through.