The Lions put up a good fight but were unable to contend with the Hurricanes, who lifted the Super Rugby trophy for the first time after a convincing 20-3 victory in Saturday’s final. After 21 seasons of heartache, the ‘Canes finally came good on all the talent they’ve had over the years.
The hosts had a Cory Jane try disallowed early from another bit of Beauden Barrett class, but shortly afterwards they scored through Jane again, and that time the try stood.
They went into the break 10-3 up, and with the weather playing its part, and the Hurricanes tackling like men possessed, the Lions couldn’t come up with a way to cross the whitewash or build up anything significant on the scoreboard.
Barrett crossed later in the game, after a sloppy lineout win by the Lions, the second try that could be viewed as opportunistic, but really was indicative of the heart of this Hurricanes team.
Skipper Dane Coles suffered a bad rib-cartilage injury two games back, but managed to put in a solid 43 minutes before being replaced. When Ricky Riccitelli went off with a bloodied nose, Coles courageously returned.
“I thought he was crazy,” said Man of the Match Barrett. “Like he went to go carry one and you could tell he didn’t want to make contact.
“Colesy said during the week that he’ll play with one arm, there’s nothing that’s going to stop him and he’s been so driven this year and especially when he got the injury, so there was nothing that was going to get in the way for Colesy tonight.”
Coles himself said that they were inspired by those that led the way before them, and also wanted to make things right after that disappointing 21-14 home loss to the Highlanders in last year’s final.
“Obviously JC [Jerry Collins] was a big part of the defensive theme this year,” Coles said.
“But you just look back at guys like Conrad [Smith], Norm Hewitt, all those ex-Hurricane boys that have tried to win the trophy, for me, that was a massive motivation.
“Jeremy Thrush, I could go on. Christian Cullen, there were so many Hurricanes legends that couldn’t get that thing. Just to bring it to the franchise for the ex-players and the region, right up to the East Coast and Gisborne. I’m just so proud to be a Hurricane right now.
“It’s bigger than us, like it’s bigger than this team. People deserve it that didn’t get it and just to say that the Hurricanes have finally won a championship is just outstanding and I’m just so proud, like I said, to be a Hurricane.”