Tahs hammered by Hurricanes as finals hopes hang by a thread


The Waratahs’ finals hopes are dangling by a thread after being hammered by the ladder-leading Hurricanes 41-12 in Wellington on Friday night.

Four tries inside the opening 26 minutes saw the home side open up a 26-0 lead and the Waratahs were effectively dead and buried at half-time.

Needing to be the first to score in the second half, the Waratahs had their moments but couldn’t find the finishing touch required to make a comeback.

Their hopes of clawing their way back into the match were ended when replacement winger Salesi Rayasi scored the first of two second-half tries in the 60th minute.

While former NRL hopeful Vuate Karawalevu scored with one of his first touches after bursting onto a lovely ball from fellow replacement Tane Edmed, their comeback was short lived as Rayasi scored his second

Playing his 50th Super Rugby match, second-rower Hugh Sinclair got on the scoresheet in the 75th minute but the Hurricanes somehow found their way to the tryline to cross for their seven try as TJ Perenara nabbed his 63rd five-pointer.

Brett Cameron scored early for the Hurricanes during their big win over the Waratahs at Sky Stadium in Wellington. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The Waratahs were beaten up early, with the visitors being blown away at scrum to concede possession. It quickly led to the Hurricanes crossing, as captain Billy Proctor crossed in the third minute.

The early dominance at the scrum didn’t necessarily continue, but it was through the middle where the Hurricanes went to work.

The home side managed to get over the gain line and their 17 offloads saw them open up the Waratahs, leading to them beating 41 defenders to 15.

“I thought the way they played, the speed at the start of the game, it was hard to stay with,” captain Jake Gordon conceded.

“Up front we knew they were powerful and we really had trouble containing them and they’re a quality team.”

Although Mark Nawaqanitawase and Dylan Pietsch were dangerous when they got the ball in their hands, the Waratahs’ forwards were hammered around the ruck and simply couldn’t stay with the competition leaders.

“It’s a little bit cliché, we do some good stuff and let ourselves down,” Gordon said.

“I thought some of the play late in the second half there were some really good moments but against a quality team like that we’ve got to do it for longer.”

Jake Gordon’s Waratahs have won just two of their ten matches this season. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

After dropping their first match of the year against the Brumbies last weekend in Canberra, Proctor was delighted with his side’s response.

“I guess just bouncing back from last week,” Proctor said he was most happy with.

“We didn’t perform the way that we wanted to and I think we just came out and started the game really strong, which is what we wanted and went a long way to winning this game.”

Asked about the Hurricanes’ strong offloading game, Proctor said his side needed to strike the right balance after errors crept into their game following their explosive opening half-hour.

“That’s just something a part of our game,” the outside centre said.

“We have amazing athletes and the boys have skills that can pull that sort of stuff off, but we’ve just got to find the balance around that because at times we were a little sloppy around that area and we had a few knock-ons, and it could have been a different scoreline if we were a bit smarter around that.”

After losing their eighth match, Gordon said the Waratahs had to park the defeat quickly as they prepare for a season-defining match against the Brumbies in Sydney next week.

“It’s always a big game playing the Brumbies, especially at home,” he said.

“We’re going to have to review this and review this pretty heavily, but it’s a sprint this competition and we’re going to have to move on pretty quick.”

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