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Hurricanes rugby: 20 of the best

Representative Rugby | 13 February 2015 | Club Rugby

Hurricanes rugby: 20 of the best

The Hurricanes are hours away from embarking on their 20th season of Super Rugby, which kicks off for them against the Lions in Johannesburg at 6.10 am tomorrow morning.

In anticipation, we have selected 20 of our favourite Hurricanes moments and memorable matches since the Super Rugby competition began, in chronological order below:

1996: Hurricanes and Blues open Super Rugby
The Hurricanes and the Blues contested the first ever Super Rugby match at Palmerston North. The Blues went on to win their maiden title in 1996 and won it again in 1997; the Hurricanes made the semi-finals for the first time in 1997 and reached their one and only final in 2006. The Blues won this competition opening game 36-28 but Hurricanes midfielder Alama Ieremia scored the first ever Super Rugby try and Hurricanes first five-eighth James Cameron kicked seven penalties and a conversion.?

1997: Umaga on fire against the Highlanders
Hurricanes wing Tana Umaga scored his second hat-trick of the season as part of a memorable 60-34 win at a packed Athletic Park. Umaga chased down a Jason O’Halloran grubber from inside his 22, collided with a Highlanders defender, pivoted swiftly and somehow collected the ball in motion and burst away to score. Umaga out sprinted Fijian winger and genuine speedster Manasa Bari in one of the most dramatic moments of the season – and there were plenty of them for Hurricanes fans that year.?

1997: Cullen double can’t get Hurricanes into final
The Hurricanes made the semi-finals for the first time in 1997. After a run of six victories in their first 10 matches, fullback Christian Cullen scored two tries but the Hurricanes lost to the Brumbies 29-35 in their final regular season match at Athletic Park. This loss meant they had to travel to Canberra the following week to play the horsemen again in the semi-final. Cullen scored an especially brilliant try from halfway when he dashed down the Millard Stand touchline following a set move in midfield. Cullen appeared certain to score until he was ankle-tapped by Joe Roff at the 22. Cullen bounced to his feet and despite the presence of four Brumbies defenders burrowed over the line. Cullen scored another two tries in the following week’s semi-final, which the Hurricanes lost 20-33.?

1998: Cullen helps makes history for NZ teams in Canberra
Christian Cullen enjoyed playing Australian teams, particularly the Brumbies. In this match he flew in for a 79th minute try to secure the Hurricanes a sensational 32-29 win for their first win over the Brumbies in Super Rugby and to become the first New Zealand side to win in Canberra. Cullen’s match winner off a telling burst by centre Alama Ieremia followed up an earlier try to flanker Martin Leslie and six penalties to halfback Jon Preston. On a sad note, founding Hurricanes captain Mark ‘Bull’ Allen was stretchered off the field with a broken neck in this match against the Brumbies, a career ending injury.?

1999: Hurricanes sign out of ‘the Park’ with narrow win
Athletic Park is now a retirement village, but it was buzzing at the end of this final ever match in 1999 after the Hurricanes had defeated the Highlanders 21-19. Halfback Jason Spice was the individual hero, scoring the winning try, after the forwards had paved the way against an All Black-laden Highlanders pack. The win not only salvaged some pride for the Hurricanes but forced the Highlanders to change their travel arrangements for the playoffs. Spice’s try in the corner clinched victory after Josh Kronfeld had seemingly wrapped it up for the visitors, relegating the Highlanders to third and sending them to the international terminal for a plane to take them to Cape Town to play the second placed Stormers in their semi-final (which they won).

2000: Gutsy Hurricanes hold off Waratahs in Sydney
This 27-20 win in Sydney is widely regarded as one of the Hurricanes’ best backs-to-the-wall wins. A 13-man Hurricanes held on to win. First, the Hurricanes jumped out to a 27-3 late in the first half with halfback Jason Spice scoring twice Then the drama began. Jonah Lomu was sinbinned for a second time just before halftime meaning an automatic red card. The Hurricanes subsequently spent long periods in the second half reduced to 13 with skipper Norm Hewitt and Filo Tiatia both shown yellow in separate incidents. The tide turned and the Waratahs came back to close to within a converted try. But determined defence held them off several more times. This win kept them in the hunt for the playoffs, but they then lost their last two games and missed out.?

2002: Vintage Hurricanes tear Sharks apart ?
Back when Westpac Stadium sold out for Super Rugby matches, the Hurricanes broke the shackles in this emphatic and much needed 40-17 win over the Sharks. The four-try bonus point victory was a timely boost to their 2002 season, after being soundly beaten by the Blues 60-7 in the season-opener, defeated the Bulls but then gone down meekly to the Stormers. They were quick to turn it around in this game, the Headline in the Dominion the next day exclaiming “Vintage Hurricanes tear Sharks apart.” In a re-run of the first ever Super 12 game played on Westpac Stadium two years previously in which the Hurricanes had beaten the Sharks 40-23, they ran rampant and opened up a 27-3 lead to seal the game by halftime. The four tries were scored by Christian Cullen, Jason Spice, Pita Alatini and Kupu Vunisi.?

2005: Hurricanes beat Blues for first time in Umaga’s 100th match?
After a decade of trying, the Hurricanes beat the Blues for the first time, and the occasion of captain Tana Umaga's 100th match for the Hurricanes. Umaga became the fourth Super Rugby centurion and first Hurricane to reach the mark. It was thus fitting that he reached his milestone against the Blues, the team he played his first game against in 1996 and who he spent a decade trying to beat. The Hurricanes went into this match knowing that victory would be enough for them to make the 2005 playoffs having won seven from nine. The first half was tense, with scores locked at 3-3 at the break, before the Hurricanes opened the contest up with three explosive tries and they eventually won 22-10.?

2006: Hore scores a hat-trick against the Chiefs
Admirers of front row play enjoyed watching Andrew Hore in 2006, as he helped lead them to their maiden final. Against the Chiefs in Wellingtonbhe became the first forward in Super Rugby to score a hat trick of tries - fittingly in his 50th Super Rugby match. Hore reveled in slippery conditions and came out on top of a forwards dominated battle, scoring his first try as the Hurricanes led 16-3 at halftime and then bursting over the line from close range twice in the second to seal a 35-10 victory. In all Hore scored 19 tries for the Hurricanes, easily the most by a Hurricanes forward.

2006: Gopperth kicks penalty from halfway in semi-final?
Flyhalf Jimmy Gopperth calmly kicked a monster penalty from halfway for the Hurricanes to beat the Waratahs 16-14 and earn their berth in their one and only Super Rugby final thus far. The Hurricanes made history in edging out the Waratahs for the second consecutive week after previously beating them in Sydney. For the second week on end, they did it with a gutsy performance characterised by sublime attacking rugby and periods of tremendous defence. It was fitting that the season's top try scorer Lome Fa'atau scored his 10th try of the season in the first half, while the rest of the Hurricanes' points came through the respective boots of David Holwell, Piri Weepu and Gopperth, who landed the decisive blow late in the second half.

2007: Waldrom’s try ignites Hurricanes at the end
No. 8 Thomas Waldrom was the hero in this game against the Brumbies, scoring a popular match-winning try in the corner in the 80th minute. Waldrom's try brought the Westpac Stadium crowd to its feet as the Hurricanes overhauled a deficit for a death-knock 11-10 win. With the fulltime hooter sounding, the Hurricanes attacked for one last time from inside their own half. Surging forward towards the line, replacement flanker Hayden Hopgood offloaded a deft pass in the tackle to Waldrom in support on his shoulder. Waldrom then pinned his ears back and charged for the corner for the decisive score.?

2007: Tito reels in Chiefs in Hamilton thriller
Taranaki lock Paul ‘Fish’ Tito was on hand to score the winning try in the dying stages of this second round clash against the Chiefs. Tito, who had played for the Chiefs before joining the Hurricanes in 2000, scooted 30 metres to score in the corner in the 78th minute to break a 32-32 deadlock and make the final score 39-32. First five-eighth Jimmy Gopperth calmly added the fulltime sideline conversion, after kicking a penalty with ten minutes to go to even up the scores. This was also Ma'a Nonu's 50th Hurricanes game and he celebrated with a 40-metre runaway try in the first half.

2008: Hurricanes reach 50 in Pretoria
Most teams are grateful just to pick up a win in Pretoria and move on, especially several years ago when the Bulls were one of the leading sides. So Hurricanes fans were forgiven for checking again when they heard they had not only beaten the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, but had thrashed them 50-22. The Hurricanes did the damage early, running in their first four tries in just 21 minutes and opening up a 28-3 lead with almost three quarters of the game remaining. They were fast out of the blocks, scoring converted tries to Ma’a Nonu (5th minute), Chris Masoe (10th), Conrad Smith (16th) and Nonu again (21st) to leave the Bulls reeling Nonu punched through a hole in midfield for his first try and collected his double with a 50-metre intercept try under the posts to complete the onslaught.

2009: Jane’s try on fulltime completes comeback win
Fullback Cory Jane and left wing David Smith scored tries to give the Hurricanes a sensational 28-27 victory on fulltime in this Perth classic. Jane scored the match winning try in the corner after the hooter to complete a remarkable come from behind victory after they spun the ball wide across the Force’s goal line and Jane linked up with replacement wing Tamati Ellison to score with the last act of the game. Jane’s try came hot on the heels of Smith’s try on the opposite side of the field, seeing the Hurricanes reel in a 27-16 deficit over the final four minutes of play.?

2011: Thrush seals stunning victory over Cheetahs
Few Hurricanes fans who rose in the middle of the night managed to go back to sleep after watching this one. Lock Jeremy Thrush finished off a sweeping counterattack up the right hand touchline to score the match winning try in the 80th minute to secure the Hurricanes victory – by an astonishing 50-47. The match winner was started deep inside the Hurricanes’ own territory and moved through several sets of hands, before replacement hooker Dane Coles tipped on the final pass to Thrush who pinned his ears back and galloped the final 30 metres to silence the home crowd. Beauden Barrett kicked the conversion to bring up the Hurricanes’ half century of points and equal the most points they have scored in South Africa. At the time the Hurricanes were trailing 47-43 after the Cheetahs had led 33-30 at halftime!

2011: Cruden wins game with final kick
First five-eighth Aaron Cruden kicked a penalty with the last play of the game to give the Hurricanes a 28-26 win over the Reds in Wellington. Cruden's winning kick from 35 metres out was the perfect finish to then skipper Andrew Hore's 100th game for the Hurricanes. Hore became the fourth ever player to reach the milestone for the franchise The Hurricanes had scored four tries in the first half to lead 22-5 at halftime, but the visitors had come back through two tries and through the boot of first five-eighth Quade Cooper to take a one-point lead late in the match.

2012: Trainspotters carouse in record win?
In beating the Rebels 66-24, the Hurricanes scored their most number of points in a Super Rugby match in routing the Rebels in Wellington. Left wing Julian Savea scored a hat trick, fullback Andre Taylor and right wing Alapati Leuia scored two tries each and first five-eighth Beauden Barrett kicked all his 10 shots on goal as the Hurricanes surpassed their previous highest Super Rugby score of 64-32 against Northern Transvaal (now the Bulls) in New Plymouth in 1997.The Hurricanes scored five tries in the first half to take a 38-17 lead into halftime, The Hurricanes outscored the Rebels four tries to one in the second half.

2012: Barrett and Smith steal victory against the Blues
The Hurricanes grabbed a sensational 26-25 victory over the Blues at Eden Park, captain and centre Conrad Smith finished off an audacious broken field break from halfway by first five-eighth Beauden Barrett to score. Barrett calmly added the extras with the final play of the game. Previously, the Blues had been hot on attack down the other end of the field and playing to hold on to or extend their 25-19 lead. But the Hurricanes won a turnover and launched one final assault and Barrett sliced into a gap, beating two defenders and offloading on his outside to Smith in the clear.?

2013: Leiua a thief in the night
Right wing Alapati Leiua was a thief in the night for the Hurricanes against the Crusaders in Wellington, his 73rd minute intercept try giving the Hurricanes a 29-28 win. Leiua read a Crusaders backline move from a lineout in centre field and flew up out of his line to pluck the pass out of the air and sprint 40 metres to score the winner under the posts. First five-eighth Beauden Barrett, who had previously kicked five penalties including two crucial long-range strikes, kicked the conversion and the Hurricanes were ahead.The drama didn't end there though. The visitors worked their way back up field and positioned first five-eighth Dan Carter in the pocket for a dropped goal. But Carter's pot from in front flew wide.
2014: Two-try Thomson the hero against Crusaders?
Lock Blade Thomson proved the unlikely hero for the Hurricanes in a gallant 16-9 win over the Crusaders in Wellington. Thomson scored the only two tries of the match, including the match winner with seven minutes to play when he scooped up a crafty grubber kick by right wing Cory Jane and raced half the length of the field to score a memorable try in the corner. The spectacular try lifted the Hurricanes who held on to the end, after previously losing key players Victor Vito and Alapati Leiua to injury in the opening 10 minutes.?
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