Above: Conrad Smith celebrates his 100th appearance for the Hurricanes and a 60-27 win over the Cheetahs with his teammates in 2014. Photo credit: Dave Lintott Photography.
With free-flowing styles, the Hurricanes and the Cheetahs are both synonymous as being two of the entertainers of Super Rugby. The Hurricanes and the Cheetahs had a couple of explosive meetings in the early days of the competition when the Cheetahs played as Orange Free State, and again in recent years.
See below for our top five Hurricanes – Cheetahs clashes in Super Rugby
Right wing Hosea Gear made it a black and yellow Friday the 13th encounter for the Cheetahs moments before fulltime, racing 85 metres to bring the house down at Westpac Stadium. Searching for a bonus point win to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Hurricanes were pinned dep inside their own territory as fulltime loomed. But they won a turnover and ripped it wide to Gear who dashed away to score. The Hurricanes had earlier laid the platform with three well-taken first half tries, to flankers Chris Masoe and Jerry Collins and lock Jason Eaton, and flawless goalkicking by first five-eighth Piri Weepu. The Cheetahs contributed to a high-pressure match with consistent waves of second half attack, but outstanding defence and Gear’s late try snuffed them out.
The Hurricanes delivered character and resolve in spades in this match, which proved the key to this bonus point victory over the Cheetahs in the heartland of South Africa. The Hurricanes kept their noses in front throughout the contest to register their sixth win of the 2013 competition. Led by captain Victor Vito, lock Jeremy Thrush and first five-eighth Beauden Barrett, the Hurricanes scored four second half tries and held off a fast-finishing Cheetahs side to the end. Scores were locked up at 12-12 at halftime, but the Hurricanes broke open the match with tries in the 51st and 53rd minutes. Vito scored the match winner and Barrett converted with 10 minutes to play.
The Hurricanes celebrated captain Conrad Smith’s 100th Super Rugby match and ignited their 2014 season with this convincing win at Westpac Stadium. The Hurricanes outscored the Cheetahs nine tries to three in a fast-paced game, racing away to score five tries in the second half after leading 29-20 at halftime. Smith deservedly got on the scoresheet, crossing for the team’s penultimate try late in the match, his 19th Super Rugby try since his debut for the Hurricanes in 2004. Eight players scored tries for the Hurricanes, with Beauden Barrett scoring two tries and landing 13 points off the tee.
Lock Jeremy Thrush finished off a sweeping counterattack up the right hand touchline to score the winning try in the 80th minute to complete a remarkable away from home victory. The 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. With the Hurricanes celebrating, replacement first five-eighth 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. The Cheetahs had led 33-30 at the end of a helter-skelter first half.
Christian Cullen is the Hurricanes’ leading all-time try scorer with 56 tries in 85 matches. He scored his only Super Rugby hat-trick in this 59-30 win that contributed to the folklore of the Hurricanes brand. The Hurricanes were returning from their three-week Australian and South African tour and Athletic Park was humming with 32,000 fans. Some were still taking their seats when the fullback flashed in for this first try in the 8th minute off an Alama Ieremia kick. Cullen capitalised on his forwards’ dominance to score another try in the 25th minute and took a long pass from flanker Martin Leslie to add his third on the hour. Cullen scored 11 tries in 10 matches for the Hurricanes in 1997 and went on to score 16 in 13 internationals for the All Blacks later that year. This was also the Hurricanes’ first win in Wellington after two losses there the year before.