However, deserved hyperbole aside, this was very much a ‘game of two halves’. In the first, the Hurricanes defended like their lives depended on it and converted scraps of possession into three great tries. And they were lethal from broken play. Jonah Lomu’s try late in the first half was nothing short of astonishing and came from a well-timed kick from current golden boy Paul Steinmetz. So deft was the placement, that Lomu took the ball and had a clear run to the line from halfway, with both Christian Cullen and Tana Umaga providing cheerleading support. For the first time in a long time also, the Hurricanes’ discipline was solid and 15 men played the entire duration of the match.
After playing at test match intensity in the first half, the Hurricanes’ could not seem to hold their line against repeated incursions by the Brumbies, conceding two tries late in the game. In the meantime though, two further tries were scored by the home team. Both were the result of sheer hard graft and a lot of talent. When a heavily-bandaged Lomu offloaded to Jason Spice to score, he had run through (and over) what seemed to be the entire Brumbies team. The second try, as Holwell completely wrong-footed his opponents from an attacking scrum, appeared so easy that most couldn’t believe it had been scored legally.
It’s a brilliant start on a long road to semi-final contention for the ‘Canes. If they play every game from now on like they did last night (and defend for the full 80 minutes), they will win the Super 12 championship, regardless of what certain provincials may have predicted at the start of the season. They require a win and a bonus point from each game. By Mexted, I think they can do it.