Hurricanes earn home semi with record-breaking victory

Super Rugby
by AAP

A suspected rib injury to skipper Dane Coles has cast a shadow over the Hurricanes six-try 41-0 Super Rugby quarter-final win over the Sharks in Wellington.

Coles left the field early in the second half in serious pain, and coach Chris Boyd was afterwards subdued in his assessment of the Hurricanes' most comprehensive win of the season.

"I'm distraught for Dane Coles - that's put a bit of a dampener on it for us," Boyd said.

"He's done something to a rib or a cartilage, so he's battling, he's off to hospital."

Both sides battled terrible conditions in Wellington. Photo: Getty ImagesThe win, the first Super Rugby playoff match in which one team failed to score, means the Hurricanes become the second Kiwi team to make next week's semi-finals, joining the Highlanders after they edged the Brumbies 15-9 in Canberra on Friday.

Boyd afterwards paid tribute to both players.

"I thought Beauden's kicking game was a masterclass, and I think that's TJ's best game this year - he was really good."

Barrett's radar was spot on - he landed a 13th minute penalty into the teeth of the gale then five minutes later unleashed a raking punt down the left wing for Jason Woodward to haul in.

More than 17,000 hardy fans turned out for the quarter-final. Photo: Getty ImagesCentre Matt Proctor latched onto the offload, and although he was brought up just short, prop Loni Uhila proved unstoppable from close range.

The Hurricanes again made the most of their chances in the 21st minute, Perenara darting down the blindside from an attacking scrum before James Marshall dived over in the corner to stretch out the lead to 13-0.

The Sharks' best chance came three minutes later, but TMO Glen Newman ruled a double movement as skipper Tendai Mtawarira reached out in the tackle and the scoreline remained unchanged going into halftime.

Dane Coles exited the game early with a rib injury. Photo: Getty ImagesThe loss of skipper Dane Coles soon after the restart looked ominous, but the Hurricanes responded by running in three tries in 12 minutes to lead 34-0 as the hour mark ticked over.

Perenara featured in all three, sparking the first with a booming run down the left before offloading for Woodward to cross.

He made a telling break from some aimless Sharks kicking to set up the second for lock Vaea Fifita then scored the third himself, slicing through from a Uhila quick tap.

The Hurricanes were unrelenting during the closing 20 minutes, flanker Brad Shields diving over right on the final whistle to wrap up the win.

Boyd said the Hurricanes' familiarity with the galeforce winds and sweeping rain had played a big part in the win.

"Our guys are used to playing in these conditions - you get the odd zephyr in Wellington, and we were able to adapt to conditions probably better than they were."


(Tries: Uhila, Marshall, Woodward, Fifita, Perenara, Shields Cons: Barrett 3, Woodward Pens: Barrett)