Hurricanes vs Reds: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Hurricanes held off a resilient Reds outfit in Wellington on Friday night.

Here's what we learned from the 38-34 result.

1. Terrific Tupou the real deal

Taniela Tupou is ready to be the Wallabies' go to man at tighthead prop.Taniela Tupou was outstanding in Wellington. Photo: Getty ImagesHis scrummaging was outstanding, defence solid and attack simply irresistible on Friday, scoring a try with three Hurricanes defenders draped over him before setting up Jordan Petaia with a tackle busting, leg pumping burst.

The 'Tongan Thor' has always had those runs in him but he has well and truly ticked the most essential box of all at Test level - elite scrummaging.

2. Stewart sizing up at fullback

Hamish Stewart looked out of place at fullback a week ago but he already appears more comfortable in the role.

He made a critical pilfer in the opening minutes, made a few pivotal tackles and in general, was in better positions behind the line.

Jono Lance didn't have his finest night outside of a picture perfect display off the kicking tee but even if coach Brad Thorn proceeds with Lance at 10 and Stewart at 15, the 20-year-old will be better for the experience.

3. Reds ready to match it with the best

Where was this Reds team a week ago, against the Sunwolves, when they were still a realistic chance of playing finals football?

Falling four points short of an upset over the Hurricanes - who claimed their 10th straight win tonight - shows just how bad Queensland were last Saturday.

They have been hot and cold all season long but it's performances such as this one - with deceptive attack, desperate defence and moments of individual brilliance - which will has Queensland fans dreaming of a bright future.

4. Old heads at the fore

George Smith and Scott Higginbotham were superb this evening.

The pair were constant pests at the breakdown and made 23 tackles between them.

Some were critical, others dominant, the constant theme little twists and turns which typified the "dark arts" which have been spoken about all week.

Those twists and turns in contact may even struggle to qualify as one percenters but they make a world of difference at every breakdown.

5. O'Keeffe opens his ears

Ben O'Keeffe was a talking point once again on Friday. Photo: Getty ImagesA week ago, a tip tackle in the final play of the Waratahs' clash with the Crusaders is clear for all to see but goes unmentioned by referee Ben O'Keeffe.

As he goes to blow full time, Tahs captain Michael Hooper asks for a TMO review.

Hooper is ignored, game over.

Fast forward six days as Filipo Daugunu breaks clear and attempts a pass which would have put Samu Kerevi away, only for it to be knocked down by Canes rookie Peter Umaga-Jensen.

As O'Keeffe reaches into his pocket to pluck a yellow card, TJ Perenara yaps in his ear, asking for a TMO referral.

O'Keeffe obliges, ruling that Umaga-Jensen was held back by Daugunu as he went for a second attempt at the intercept.

A critical moment in the match, officiated two different ways in as many weeks.

Spot the difference.