Rugby

Sunwolves squander big lead in loss to Hurricanes

Kyodo, AFP-JIJI

The Sunwolves wasted some golden opportunities and failed to win their first night game at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground, falling 29-23 to the Hurricanes in Super Rugby on Friday.

The teams went into the changing rooms with the Sunwolves leading the side from Wellington, New Zealand, 23-10. The Sunwolves, however, made the lions’ share of the mistakes after the restart. The Hurricanes pulled within one after Gerhard van den Heever’s kick in front of his own try line was charged down, allowing Chase Tiatia to score a try. Fletcher Smith added the extras from the touchline to make it 23-22.

Fittingly, the Hurricanes (6-1-2) capitalized on Sunwolves mistake to take the lead, Wes Goosen displaying his soccer skills to score a try after a wild throw from a line-out.

With the clock winding down, the Sunwolves (2-7) had several set pieces near the Hurricanes try line, but couldn’t hold on to the ball.

“We’re happy to win, but give credit to the Sunwolves for putting us under pressure,” said Hurricanes captain TJ Perenara, who scored his side’s lone first-half try.

“The main thing for us is that we didn’t make as many errors in the second half — that’s what hurt us in the first half.”

Once again, the Sunwolves paid the price for some poor lineout play, notably in the build-up to Goosen’s go-ahead try.

“Our game plan is awesome,” insisted captain Dan Pryor after the team’s seventh loss of the year.

“On our day we can beat anyone, but lapses in concentration can give teams easy tries which we can’t afford.”

Semisi Masirewa bagged a sixth-minute breakaway try before flyhalf Hayden Parker, who went five-for-six with the boot, slotted three penalties to give the home side a nice cushion.

Parker then dinked a superb cross-kick for Masirewa to chase into the corner, the left-winger finishing with an extravagant swallow dive as the Sunwolves went into the break leading 23-10.

But the Hurricanes, champions in 2016 and semifinalists last season, roared back with 19 unanswered points, Ben Lam crashing over before Chase Tiatia and Goosen added tries to complete the comeback for the Wellington side’s sixth win of the campaign.