Cape Town – The Hurricanes came from behind to grind out a 29-23 victory over a spirited Sunwolves outfit in Tokyo on Friday.
The hosts opened the scoring after a scintillating run from inside centre Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco. A slick lineout move saw flyhalf Hayden Parker put Warren-Vosayaco in a hole, and he went on to beat a couple defenders before throwing a pinpoint pass out wide to winger Semisi Masirewa who went over untouched.
The Hurricanes hit back after piece of individual brilliance from TJ Perenara. After the initial break from Fletcher Smith took play to 20m out, the All Black scrumhalf threw a dummy and ran over behind the poles.
The Sunwolves continued to make the Hurricanes pay for their mistakes via the boot of Parker, who knocked over three penalties before playing a crucial role in their second try.
Recognising the acres of space on the outside, the New Zealand-born No 10 executed a superb cross kick to a flying Masirewa who crossed the line in splendid isolation. The conversion saw the hosts’ lead balloon out to 23-7 with 10 minutes remaining in the opening half.
Smith would add some respectability to the scorelione with a well-struck penalty from 42m out on the stroke of half-time (23-10).
The Wellington-based franchise got back in the game when the in-form Ngani Laumape stabbed through a kick for winger Ben Lam, who showed his searing pace to collect the ball and dot down for the try.
Ten minutes later, a charge down from replacement lock Isaia Walker-Leawere would lead to another Hurricanes try. Under pressure in his own 22m area, Parker went to his right boot and Walker-Leawere got his big frame across to charge down the ball, leaving fullback Chase Tiatia to score one of the easiest tries of his career. The conversion from out wide missed, but the visitors had brought it back to 23-22.
The Hurricanes continued their comeback via winger Wes Goosen. A poor lineout from the Sunwolves saw Laumape scoop up the ball and break up-field. Slick hands gave Goosen the ball on the touchline and he chipped forward before eventually gathering for the try. Smith added the extra two for a six point lead with 11 minutes to play.
The Sunwolves rallied in the final minutes to pile the pressure on the visitors who defended frantically to grind out a victory.
15 Ryohei Yamanaka, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Josh Timu, 12 Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, 11 Semisi Masirewa, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Jamie Booth, 8 Hendrik Tui, 7 Dan Pryor (captain), 6 Ben Gunter, 5 Luke Thompson, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Hiroshi Yamashita, 2 Nathan Vella, 1 Pauliasi Manu
Substitutes: 16 Atsushi Sakata, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Tom Rowe, 20 Shuhei Matsuhashi, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Jason Emery, 23 Jamie Henry
15 Chase Tiatia, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 TJ Perenara (captain), 8 Reed Prinsep, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Liam Mitchell, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Ben May, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Fraser Armstrong
Substitutes: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Sam Henwood, 21 Richard Judd, 22 James Marshall, 23 Billy Proctor