WELLINGTON, New Zealand, May 10 – Beauden and Jordie Barrett inspired Wellington Hurricanes to a dogged victory over the Auckland Blues at Eden Park Friday, as the Melbourne Rebels snapped a three-game losing streak to beat the Queensland Reds.
Each brother scored a try in the 22-12 win to maintain the Hurricanes’ recent stranglehold over their North Island rivals.
In Melbourne, the Will Genia-led Rebels ground out a 30-24 win to shore up their place at the top of the Australian conference, making the most of two Reds’ yellow cards.
Tries came from Wallabies Marika Koroibete, Dane Haylett-Petty, and Tetera Faulkner, along with Anaru Rangi.
At Eden Park, the Blues enjoyed 60 percent possession, but were repeatedly denied by desperate defence as the Hurricanes posted their fifth straight victory for a record second only to competition leaders Canterbury Crusaders.
“We’ve won a few tight games and that builds character,” captain TJ Perenara said.
“We were probably a little bit inaccurate around the middle of the park and that’s not good enough for us.”
It was the Blues’ fourth consecutive loss and their eighth straight against the Hurricanes, stretching back to 2015.
Blues fly-half Sam Nock opened the scoring with a try in the ninth minute, swooping on Patrick Tuipulotu’s pass.
The ‘Canes scored against the run of play when Ngani Laumape stole the ball and sent Ben Lam off for a try with his first touch of the match.
Jordie Barrett, playing at fullback, made two try-saving tackles to deny the Blues, then scored at the other end to give his chances of World Cup selection a timely boost.
The Blues were camped on the Hurricanes danger zone early in the second half as Wellington conceded a string of penalties, culminating in a yellow card for Jeff Toomaga-Allen.
The pressure finally paid off when Dalton Papalii crossed in the corner in the 60th minute, although a missed conversion kept the Hurricanes ahead 14-12.
Another period of Blues dominance followed, but the Hurricanes again came out on top when Beauden Barrett snared a stray James Parsons pass and scampered away for an intercept try before Jordie sealed the win with a penalty.
– Back to winning ways –
In Melbourne, the Rebels desperately needed a win to set up the back end of the season after an impressive start to the year faltered with three straight defeats.
“Was a good win, we had to grind it out there in some tough conditions,” said skipper Haylett-Petty.
“We put pressure on them, especially when they had some (yellow) cards. We obviously wanted to get back to winning ways, but also our brand of rugby — and we did through patches there.”
They had all the early possession, but made too many errors with a slippery ball and Bryce Hegarty kicked a penalty to put the Reds in front.
When Reds skipper Samu Kerevi was yellow carded on 16 minutes for tackling Genia in the air, the Rebels grabbed the advantage with Koroibete busting through the defence for a try off a dominant set piece.
They got their second after an intense period of pressure saw hooker Rangi flop over after a powerful driving maul from a lineout. Quade Cooper converted both times.
Against the run of play, the Reds kept in touch with a try just before half-time as youngster Isaac Lucas got his first touchdown in Super Rugby.
But with Scott Higginbotham in the sin bin at the start of the second stanza, the Rebels pressed hard and produced two tries in the opening 10 minutes, from Faulkner after a move from within their own half and then Haylett-Petty.
Harry Hoopert pulled one back for the Reds from a rolling maul but the damage had been done and a late Reece Hodge penalty ensured the win.