JOHANNESBURG – The Hurricanes put a huge dent in the Lions’ Super Rugby playoff hopes by registering a convincing bonus-point win at Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon.
John Plumtree’s men ran in five tries to the two by the Lions to secure a place in the knockout rounds in two weeks’ time.
For the Lions to qualify in the top eight and feature in the quarter-finals, they will probably have to beat the Bulls in their last match at Loftus next Saturday.
After three good performances at home since their overseas tour – when they beat the Waratahs, Highlanders and Stormers (last weekend) – the Lions failed to fire on Saturday, and suffered their seventh defeat in 15 matches.
After a tight and patchy first half by both sides, the Hurricanes came to life in the second 40 minutes and played the Lions off their home turf.
And star Hurricanes No 10 Beauden Barrett didn’t even feature, after being named in the starting team in the week.
The Hurricanes were first on the board inside 10 minutes through centre Ngani Laumape, who ran a good line and powered through the Lions defence, but by the 10th minute, the match was all square.
Lions wing Aphiwe Dyantyi, who again enjoyed an excellent outing, saw nothing was on in open play and chipped the ball into space before getting a favourable bounce, which he gobbled up and darted over for the first of his two tries.
Sadly, the rest of the first half was a stop-start affair, characterised by strong defence and few clear-cut chances.
The Lions asked more questions of the more-fancied Hurricanes, but failed to capitalise on their superior possession stakes.
Shaun Reynolds and Jordie Barrett exchanged penalties to leave the match tied at 10-10 at the break.
The Lions were rocked by the hamstring injury to key loose forward Kwagga Smith as well.
The second half, thankfully, produced the type of rugby these teams have become known for, and it was the visitors who finally showed their class.
Replacement loose forward Ardie Savea and hooker Dane Coles both made a big impact after the break, while the Lions also introduced seasoned No 10 Elton Jantjies, who also made a telling contribution.
From the restart, Hurricanes wing Ben Lam went over after the Lions had failed to secure the kickoff, while a further penalty by Barrett put his side 20-10 up.
A second try by Lam, on 50 minutes, following a strong run down the touchline by Savea, ensure the Lions had something of a mountain to climb to get back into the match.
FULL-TIME | LIONS vs HURRICANES— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) June 8, 2019
The Hurricanes secure their fifth-consecutive away victory after comfortably defeating the Lions in Johannesburg.
Match Centre: https://t.co/zmTrqb1I7b#SuperRugby #LIOvHUR pic.twitter.com/K1oMQED9RI
Dyantyi’s second try, following some deft handling by Jantjies and Lionel Mapoe, gave the Lions players – and fans – hope, but those were quickly dashed by the All Blacks hooker Coles.
Following some smart handling, passing and support play next to the touchline, Coles found his way over for the first of his two tries, and he struck again with four minutes to play, going over from close range.
The Lions finish their campaign against the Bulls and will have to find a new No 8 with Smith seemingly out with a hamstring problem. Warren Whiteley is also still not available, because of injury.
Lions v Hurricanes | Super Rugby 2019 Rd 17 Highlights— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) June 8, 2019
The @Hurricanesrugby step it up a gear in the second half to take a decisive 37-17 victory over the @LionsRugbyCo.#SuperRugby #LIOvHUR pic.twitter.com/c6ZFkwYns9
Lions 17 – Tries: Aphiwe Dyantyi (2). Conversions: Shaun Reynolds (2). Penalty: Reynolds (1).
Hurricanes 37 – Tries: Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam (2), Dane Coles (2). Conversions: Jordie Barrett (3). Penalties: Jordie Barrett (2).@jacq_west