The first Crusaders v Hurricanes 2019 showdown was hotly anticipated. But after watching the Crusaders run up a first-half 31-0 scoreline, Hurricanes fans may have started to think their side was a lost cause this season. After a stronger second half, however, the ‘Canes gave us some glimpses into what they can do in this competition. In this article, we take a look at positive forces and easy-fixes that can propel the Hurricanes forward to Super Rugby glory.
Crusaders v Hurricanes 2019 | the Hurricane’s controllable errors
Right from the start, the Hurricanes were making errors that shouldn’t be happening at the professional level and handing the ball back to a Crusaders side on fire. Here Fletcher Smith puts a well-intentioned kick into the corner, but it rolls too far and crosses the dead-ball line.
To be fair to Smith, this could be put down to the wind or early season jitters. But it should be entirely fixable in the coming rounds.
Despite the magnitude of the first-half scoreline, the Hurricanes did have possession in good areas. When they finally reached these areas though, they coughed up the ball in an uncharacteristic manner. Here Kirifi can’t control the ball after a loose pass.
This is just a case of a forced pass under pressure, which is something that should be fixed with more team training. But by far the Hurricanes’ biggest sin in the first half was their line-out losses. They lost 6 line-outs in this game, more than any team in any fixture last season.
Line-outs are by far the most deadly attacking platform in Super Rugby, and no side can afford to give them away. The good news for the ‘Canes is they seemingly fixed their line-outs in the second half, but we will get back to that soon.
Line-outs may be statistically the best platform, but the Kiwi teams are also using scrums top dominate this season. You can read about that below.
Now let’s look at a player who has been recovering from injury for a whopping 574 days before this game.
Crusaders v Hurricanes 2019 | Dane Coles is playing like he never left
Dane Coles wasted no time stepping right back into the role he played for the Hurricanes prior to his injury. Below he is defending on the wing as he often does, and makes a great covering run to stop the Crusaders during one of their no-kick exits.
The commitment on display from Coles at a time when his side were falling heavily behind was exceptional. Let’s watch the following play unfold and keep an eye on Coles. The sheer work rate of the man will blow your mind.
Firstly, Coles speeds off the back of the line-out to try and recover a loose ball. The Crusaders disrupt the ball before he can control it, and take possession.
Despite being on the ground in the above clip, Coles is somehow already in the pillar position and making a tackle as the Crusaders attack off the same ruck.
After taking it upon himself to make this tackle, Coles pops up again a few phases later to make another one. This time he dives in to neutralise the fleet-footed Mo’Unga.
After getting up off the ground to make 2 tackles in quick succession, Coles isn’t finished. In the 6th phase, he pops up again to make yet another tackle. That’s 3 tackles in 6 phases, two of them in the gruelling pillar position.
The Hurricanes would go into half-time not long after this with Dane Coles leading by example, and they would be a completely different machine when they returned to the field.
Crusaders v Hurricanes 2019 | The Hurricane’s 45-Minute change
In the second half, the Hurricanes would keep the Crusaders scoreless while scoring 22 unanswered points. It all started here with Ben Lam, who had no right to beat 3 defenders and score.
After the break, the Hurricanes would also begin to win their own line-out by going back to basics. Here they go to the back and set a simple maul.
To keep the positives rolling, the Hurricane’s bench was starting to make an impact. Here Garden-Bachop has the presence of mind to step inside the Crusaders rush defence and he sets off.
The line-break up the middle and numerous support runners are vintage Hurricanes. That man again Ben Lam is on hand to beat the last defender and score his second.
Do you think the Hurricanes are better than they let on in this game? How much of a difference will the return of the rest of their All Blacks make? Let us know your thoughts.
Author: The 1014 Rugby and Henry Stokes