WELLINGTON – The Auckland-based Blues beat the Wellington-based Hurricanes 24-15 Saturday in a Super Rugby match which will be remembered longer for its controversy than its quality.
The Hurricanes were reduced to 12 men in the second half after prop Tyrel Lomax was shown a red card for a shoulder charge, flanker Vaea Fifita was sin-binned for a similar offense and fullback Jordie Barrett received a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on which also conceded a penalty try.
In spite of all those disadvantages, the Hurricanes managed to stay in the game and even took the lead 15-14 with a try after Lomax left the field.
The Blues managed to edge ahead with the penalty that resulted from Fifita’s yellow card, then relied on the penalty try conceded by Barrett to beat the Hurricanes for the first time in nine meetings.
It was an indictment on the Blues that even when they held a three-man advantage, they couldn’t produce an actual scoring play. Near the end, with the Hurricanes still reduced to 12 men, the Blues incredibly attempted a drop kick at goal.
“We didn’t do ourselves any favors,” Hurricanes captain T.J. Perenara said. “We were down to 12 players at one stage there and you can’t win football games like that so we’ve got to right those wrongs and give ourselves a chance to win those games.”
The Hurricanes lost their temper and their discipline in the second half, feeling they had been unfairly treated.
The incident that led to Lomax’s dismissal was referred to referee Mike Fraser by his TMO and Fraser rated it a red card offense because Lomax led with his shoulder, didn’t wrap his arms and made contact with the head.
The Blues were awarded tries in each half which were also called into question. In the first half backrower Akira Ioane was judged to have scored on the basis of Fraser’s on-field call, though replays suggested he grounded the ball just short of the line.
Winger Mark Telea scored in the left-hand corner early in the second half, Fraser again made the on-field call of try and replays showed Telea had put his hand in touch at almost the same moment he grounded the ball.
Elsewhere, the Melbourne Rebels beat the Johannesburg-based Lions 37-17. They did it with only 14 men for 20 minutes, after test winger Marika Koroibete was yellow-carded for a high-tackle. Winger Andrew Kellaway continued his Super Rugby resurgence with two tries to take his tally to seven for the season after only scoring three touchdowns in 22 games with New South Wales Waratahs.
Kellaway opened with a 50-meter effort and then a break by the 24-year-old set up Melbourne’s second try, with flanker Richard Hardwick crossing between the uprights.
The Lions kept in touch with halfback Andre Warner finding winger Jamba Ulengo off the back of a five-meter lineout. A 40th-minute penalty by Elton Jantjies, after Warner was knocked off the ball at the back of a ruck, closed the gap to 15-10 at halftime.
Despite being down a man, the Rebels started the second half with forwards Matt Philip and Angus Cottrell combining to send Wallabies backrower Isi Naisarani over the line. Skipper Dane Haylett-Petty then scored in the 53rd minute after halfback Ryan Louwrens wrong-footed the defense.
Reserve prop Sti Sithole crossed late after a Lions maul before Kellaway dived across in the corner for his second of the night to secure a bonus point.