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Hurricanes blow away Blues
e Blues are starting to watch
their Super Rugby season slip
A 39-20 defeat at the hands
of the Hurricanes in Wellington
last night was a frustrating blow
to the Blues which have dropped
ve from eight this year.
It is last in the New Zealand
conference, sitting outside the
top six on the overall spectrum,
and Blues coach Sir John
Kirwan attached the dreaded
"must-win" term to the Anzac
Day outing against the Waratahs
"I thought we lacked a lot
of energy at times," Kir wan
said of his team's loss to the
"We need to get home and lick
our wounds and look forward
to the Waratahs game, which
becomes a must-win."
Despite holding a 17-13 lead
over the Hurricanes at the Cake
Tin at the break, the Blues fell
apart in the second half even
though they enjoyed a numerical
advantage in manpower as
hooker Dane Coles spent time in
the sin bin for the home side.
Kirwan's men were unable to
get anything going in the soggy
conditions in the capital, while
the Hurricanes did not let the
greasy ball bother them as they
ran with vigour on the counter-
eir endeavour paid o as
they were rewarded with four
second-half tries, while the Blues
failed to re.
"It was a big night for both
franchises," Kirwan said. " ey
took ve points so they got
straight up (near) the top of the
table and we are under pressure."
e win was the Hurricanes'
third on the bounce and the
team is now rmly in the play-
Kirwan's ongoing headache
this year has been nding a
reliable rst- ve and things
looked on the up for the Blues
during the rst 30 minutes of
last night's game as the recalled
Chris Noakes produced a steady
But a jolt to the ribs and a head
knock shortly after saw him
leave the eld and not return as
his status for next Friday's game
When Noakes left the paddock,
new recruit Benji Marshall was
summoned from the bench but
did not work his way in to the
game as the Blues were starved
of the ball.
"Chris drove us around the
park in the rst half," Kirwan
"Benji came on, he's new to the
game and been playing fullback
lately. He goes to 10 and it's
pretty hard to drive the football
team and if you're not getting go
forward up front it's di cult and
that's what happened."
e play-o s are not out of the
reckoning for the Blues but they
need to nd some consistency
and concoct a formula to win
on the road as last night's loss
marked their 12th-straight
defeat away from home.
Hurricanes coach Mark
Hammett said his side always
had faith in what they were
doing despite being down on the
scoreboard at the split.
"We were pretty con dent with
the way we were playing and the
pressure we were putting on the
His assessment was correct as
his team nished strongly and
will meet the Reds in Wellington
next Saturday night.
Hurricanes 39 (Alapati Leiua,
Julian Savea, T J Perenara,
Conrad Smith, Motu Matu'u
tries; Beauden Barrett 2 pen, 4
con) bt Blues 20 (George Moala
try, penalty try; Chris Noakes
pen, con, Benji Marshall pen,
con). Halftime: 13-17.
PICTURE: Getty Images
Jeremy rush of the Hurricanes drives the ball for ward with Tim Bateman in support during the match against the Blues at Westpac
Blues season on the rocks
North Queensland coach
Paul Green has demanded an
explanation from the NRL after
a controversial obstruction ruling
went against the Cowboys in
the dying stages of their loss to
Manly, paving the way for a Sea
e Sea Eagles scored a 26-21
come-from-behind win over the
Cowboys in Gosford last night
before 10,013 fans with Jamie
Buhrer crashing over for the
78th-minute matchwinner after
Johnathan urston had put the
visitors ahead by a point two
But a Kieran Foran try eight
minutes from time that allowed
Manly to draw level at 20-20 is
sure to be a major talking point
into next week.
Buhrer appeared to obstruct
Cowboys defender Ray
ompson on the goal line as
Foran dummied his way over but
video referees Bernard Sutton
and Paul Mellor awarded the
try to the vehement protests of
To make matters worse, Brett
Stewart lost the ball forward in
the lead-up to the Foran try but
Manly were given six again by
referee Gavin Badger.
Green said he could not believe
the decision to award the Foran
" at refereeing decision is
"Someone needs to explain
to me what the rule is because,
in my opinion, they must have
changed the rule," Green said.
"If that is not an obstruction
I will walk nude through Pitt
"I am absolutely bewildered
how they can get it so wrong and
this is not just our game --- this is
happening too regularly.
" is needs to be better.
"What's disappointing for the
game is that decisions like that
are deciding outcomes; that's not
" ey owe us an explanation.
" ere wasn't a bloke in this
ground that thought it was a try."
When asked how he saw the
Foran play, urston said: "I
saw it how everyone else saw it,
except the blokes in the video
Manly coach Geo Toovey
conceded his team were fortunate
to get the two points.
"I didn't get a good look at it
(the obstruction)," Toovey said.
"I think we were probably a
bit fortunate. You couldn't tell
conclusively from the video.
"It was a bit of luck there but
we will take it.
"But I'm sure they will be a bit
upset about it."
Green did concede that the
Cowboys should have been
more ruthless in nishing o the
A rst-half double to Brent
Tate coupled with a 21st-minute
four-pointer to Kyle Feldt put
the Cowboys ahead 14-6 at half-
time after Steve Matai opened
the scoring for Manly in the fth
New South Wales State of
Origin hopeful Jorge Taufua
crossed for a second-half
double in the 59th and 67th
minutes for Manly before
Foran's controversial e ort, with
Cowboys winger Curtis Rona
scoring on his NRL debut in the
Daly Cherry-Evans was a
late withdrawal for Manly due
to a leg injury, while Anthony
Watmough did not return for
the second half after hurting his
elbow in the lead-up to Tate's
second try. --- AAP
Trent Hodkinson's 78th-minute eld goal
has sealed a 15-14 victory for Canterbury
over a patched-up South Sydney in a stirring
Good Friday NRL encounter at ANZ
It is the third week in a row the Bulldogs
have won a game through a eld goal and
by a single point, with Hodkinson repeating
his heroics from last week's win over the
e former Manly halfback's kick from
30m capped a superb ghtback for Des
Hasler's side, which trailed 14-6 in the
Already without the suspended Ben Te'o
and George Burgess, at one stage Souths
had four players o the eld but, led by
the outstanding Sam Burgess and John
Sutton, it almost pulled o a heroic victory
when Sutton crossed for a 64th-minute try,
converted by Adam Reynolds.
However, tries from Mitch Brown and
Corey ompson plus the boot of Hodkinson,
who was 100% from four kicks, helped the
Bulldogs nd a way to win in a nailbiting
e Bulldogs thought they had scored
with less than 10 minutes on the clock when
ompson's try was rubbed out by the o cials
after Josh Reynolds was adjudged to have run
behind Greg Eastwood before throwing the
pass to the winger.
e decision looked harsh and, to make
matters worse for Hasler's team, Adam
Reynolds kicked a penalty from close range
just after Tim Browne had dropped the ball
on the rst tackle.
In a game dominated by some huge hits
from both sides, there was also some poor
handling with the ball going to ground far
too often in the opening stanza.
Souths lost hooker Api Koroisau with
a shoulder injury then had Kyle Turner
(concussion), Joe Picker (rib) and Davey
Tyrell (head) all forced o the eld before
Canterbury back-rower Dale Finucane
was put on report twice, rst for a dangerous
tackle and for putting Picker in a dangerous
On the stroke of half-time, Burgess
crashed over from close range with Reynolds
converting to open up an 8-0 lead.
In the second half, Souths continued to
press but, with a depleted bench, they began
to tire against the giant Bulldogs' forwards ---
led by man of the match James Graham.
Brown went over in the right corner 13
minutes after the restart only for Sutton to
extend the Rabbitohs' lead.
But ompson crossed in the opposite
corner to close the gap, with Hodkinson
kicking a penalty to level the scores six
minutes from time, then bisecting the posts
again with the winning kick. --- AAP
Bulldogs see off Souths in nailbiter
A superb defensive e ort at Hunter
Stadium helped Brisbane end a two-game
losing streak last night.
In front of a Good Friday crowd of 22,254,
the Broncos' goal-line defence was rst class
in the 32-6 victory over Newcastle.
Hooker Andrew McCullough led the way
with 59 tackles, of which 38 came in the rst
Lock Matt Gillett was outstanding, scoring
a try and made the most run metres (178) as
well as producing 40 tackles while captain
Corey Parker turned in another tradesman-
Fullback Ben Barba put in his nest game
for his new club in scoring a try, playing a
hand in two and putting his small frame on
the line to hold up props Willie Mason and
Adam Cuthbertson over the line in the rst
e Knights were not bad and their attack
looked sharp at times but they just ran into
one of the best defensive performances seen
Unfortunately for the Knights, Mason was
placed on report for a shoulder charge on
Parker early in the second half.
Brisbane scored rst through second-rower
Alex Glenn from a cross eld kick by halfback
Ben Hunt for a 4-0 lead after 15 minutes.
e Knights almost scored a freakish try
from the re-start when Hunt allowed the ball
to bounce only for it to turn a horrible right
angle before winger Dale Copley grounded
the ball just in time.
Brisbane went to an 8-0 lead in the 23rd
minute when Barba turned the ball inside
for Gillett to beat Mason to score next to the
posts. Parker converted for a 10-0 lead.
Barba gave Brisbane a 14-0 lead after winger
Daniel Vidot did well to stay in the eld of
play in the 30th minute. Parker converted for
a 16-0 scoreline.
A barnstorming run by Newcastle for ward
Korbin Sims ended with him crashing over
to leave the Knights trailing 16-6 at halftime.
e Broncos scored the try of the match
in the 63rd minute when Barba, Gillett and
Justin Hodges combined to send Copley over
for a 20-6 lead.
A penalty goal to Parker made it 22-6
before late tries to Ben Hannant and Josh
Ho man gave Brisbane a comfortable win.
Barba gave his team a scare when he
su ered an ankle injury late in the game but
nished the match. --- AAP
Barba stars as Broncos buck Knights
e Melbourne Rebels put the brakes on
the Western Force's winning run last night
with a hard-earned 22-16 victory in their
Good Friday Super Rugby clash at AAMI
e Rebels made amends for their early-
season humiliation at the hands of the Force
and stopped the Perth franchise's surge at ve
It was Melbourne's third win and was much
needed after back-to-back losses in New
Zealand and with the bye next round.
ey did it the hard way, dominating the
rst half everywhere except on the scoreboard
with the teams locked at 6-6 at half-time.
e Rebels had 62% of possession, a massive
502m run compared to the Force's 207m and
made only 39 tackles compared to 96 for the
ey did not get across the tryline until the
61st minute, relying on the boot of fullback
Jason Woodward kicking penalties.
at try came after skipper Scott
Higginbotham took the ball from the back of
their scrum and charged over.
e Melbourne scrum earned bragging
rights over their rivals while lock Luke Jones
continued to push his claims for a Wallaby
call-up, making a game-high 16 runs.
e Force, missing halfback Alby
Mathewson (ankle), lock Sam Wykes (rib)
and winger Luke Morahan (hamstring), also
struggled to bag a ve-pointer with ve-
eighth Sias Ebersohn keeping them in the
ey hammered hard early in the second
half, getting within centimetres of the tryline
but the home side's defence held up and
they ended up taking three points for a ruck
e Force looked out of steam on the back
of their winning run, which included the
scalp of the New South Wales Waratahs last
Higginbotham's converted try extended
their lead to 19-6 and the early workload
started to take its toll on both sides with the
error toll mounting.
Woodward brought his personal toll to 17
points --- ve penalties and a conversion ---
before Force winger Nick Cummins crossed
after the siren to ensure an all-important
Higginbotham said the win was overdue
after a run of close losses, including to the
champion Chiefs last round.
He praised the scrum for laying the
platform; all the more impressive after losing
starting prop Laurie Weeks 16 minutes in
" e scrum was fantastic and we really built
on that," Higginbotham said.
" e boys had a tough time in New Zealand
so to come back here and really put it on, it
was good for them.
"It was time for us to get a win."
Melbourne coach Tony McGahan was
also delighted his team had nally been
" ey've trained really well and have had
a tremendous attitude and, against a good
Force side, we got the fruits of the last three
weeks," he said.
He said he was not concerned about his
team's inability to break away from the Force
in the rst half, feeling that the workload
would count against the visitors as the clock
Force coach Michael Foley saw it the
same way and said his team failed to match
the desperate Rebels at the breakdown and
scrum, particularly in the opening half.
"We weren't able to get enough momentum
in the early stages of the game and that took
its toll in the back stages," he said.
should have to make up for the things we
weren't doing proactively," he said.
He said his team, who host the Bulls next
round, weren't looking for excuses such as the
mental and physical drain of their winning
" ere might be mitigating factors but we
have to overlook those and know we could
have done better." --- AAP
Rebels overpower Force
Sir John Kir wan
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