Updated: Apr 30
Written by Max Sharp.
Forsyth Barr Stadium's spectators got themselves a lot of entertainment out of the Saturday night game, especially with the Hurricanes starting out strong. The Wellington-based side was out to a 14-6 win at half time, before another near-implosion let the Highlanders back in. The final score was a 22-21 for the Hurricanes, who will be relieved after they missed some try-scoring opportunities in the second half. Let's read through the team from jersey number 1 to 23 and see what they played like.
Hurricanes Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - Pouri Rakete-Stones (6/10)
He was given a hard time at scrums off the Highlanders' feed but got them back once before half-time. A 53-minute performance saw Rakete-Stones grow into the game with 3 metres off 4 carries, 1 pass and 8 tackles.
Hooker - Asafo Aumua (7/10)
Played 80 minutes and Aumua was a tank both on and off the ball. His 4 carries saw him run 17 metres, beat 3 defenders and get held up over the try line once, while he also made 3 passes, 1 offload and 12 tackles. Very lucky not to have been carded after his shoulder gave former teammate Gareth Evans a black eye.
Tighthead Prop - Tevita Mafileo (4/10)
de Groot pushed Mafileo back in the scrum a fair bit to say the least. Ended up playing 55 minutes despite being shoulder charged to the head by Josh Dickson; looked a bit timid when coming back on; his 2 carries didn't make any metres, though he made 7 tackles.
Lock 4 - James Blackwell (7/10)
Lived up to the big workload of the game, ran 10 metres and beat 1 defender off 5 carries. Blackwell's 7 passes were more than 5 of the starting backs, also managed 10 tackles and 1 turnover. Did his core roles to a very pleasing standard overall.
Lock 5 - Isaia Walker-Leawere (7/10)
Gave away a couple of penalties but looked fit after returning from injury. His 12 metres were off 12 carries (second-most of the team), while Walker-Leawere's 5 passes came from him being the primary lineout jumper. 10 tackles and 1 turnover too, good defence.
Blindside Flanker - Reed Prinsep (5/10)
Had a low attacking work rate again. Prinsep only made 1 carry (though he ran 7 metres off it). Defence saw him make 7 tackles and 2 turnovers. Was a lineout option through the game and did that well, made a bad knock on while he had an overlap. Was tackled into touch off a lineout by Gareth Evans too. Off after 53.
Openside Flanker - Blake Gibson (7/10)
Gibson was the game's most prolific tackler, with 14 of them. Knew when and when not to compete for the ball, which improved his team's discipline, while he ran 9 metres and beat 1 defender off 5 carries. Keep him at 7, he's much better than Kirifi.
Number 8 - Ardie Savea (7/10)
Wasn't the beast he has been most of the season, Savea still did well though. Managed 13 metres and 2 defenders beaten off 6 carries, 11 passes is a fair bit for a forward as well. 8 tackles and 1 turnover was the defensive effort, he slowed the Highlanders' ball a lot.
Halfback - TJ Perenara (6/10)
Slow passing off the base of rucks made the first half very difficult to watch. Perenara then went a bit more up-tempo in the second half with 21 metres off 3 carries, contributing a tackle and 2 turnovers on defence. Didn't get to reach Israel Folau's try-scoring record, but will soon. Outplayed Aaron Smith.
First-Five - Jackson Garden-Bachop (4/10)
A bit like Perenara, Garden-Bachop didn't really provide the other backs with the best passes. Would often be the man selecting which forward would carry and ran 20 metres off 3 carries. MIA on defence however, ended up putting one of his kick-offs out on the full.
Left Wing - Salesi Rayasi (9/10)
Rayasi got to make 15 carries and he really capitalised. They lead to him running 144 metres, beating 6 defenders and making 3 clean breaks. Only made 6 passes, but his 1 offload set Morgan up for the winning try. Didn't miss any of his 7 tackles. Great game.
Second-Five - Jordie Barrett (5/10)
The experiment's over, put him back at 15. Barrett didn't have enough time on the ball while closer to the defence line and only made 6 passes. 59 metres and 4 defenders beaten off 9 carries, but these often lead to turnovers conceded, while he knocked on 3 times. 5 tackles and 1 turnover was his defensive effort. Jason Holland is sabotaging Barrett's career, the move to 12 at test level is NOT happening. Good goal kicking, can't blame selections on Barrett himself.
Centre - Bailyn Sullivan (8/10)
Was a victim of not enough ball coming his way, but Sullivan made the most of what he got. Stepped Scott Gregory and Bryn Evans for a clean break to score the opening try, while he ran 28 metres and beat 4 defenders from his 5 carries. Third-most tackles of the team with 10.
Right Wing - Julian Savea (8/10)
The bus isn't ready to park yet, Savea, like Sullivan, was destructive. Ran 46 metres, beat 5 defenders and managed 1 clean break off 6 carries, while he used the wing like the middle of the pitch by making 5 passes and 2 offloads. Defended with 8 tackles and 1 turnover.
Fullback - Josh Moorby (4/10)
Moorby delivered strong running stats with 57 metres and 1 defender beaten off 10 carries, but the coach has put him into the team's spine too early into his career. Made just 3 passes and 1 tackle, while two of his passes went into touch. Put him back on the wing.
Reserve Hooker - Kianu Kereru-Symes (No rating)
Having played 70 minutes on his debut, on Tuesday, Kereru-Symes did not play against the Highlanders so won't be rated.
Reserve Loosehead Prop - Xavier Numia (7/10)
Didn't contribute anything to the Hurricanes' attack but used his 27 minutes to win the scrum-time battle. Made 4/4 tackles, can't fault Numia for what he did do on the pitch.
Reserve Tighthead Prop - Pasilio Tosi (7/10)
The 23-year-old came on in the 18th minute during Mafileo's HIA and made a turnover while providing stability to the scrum. Tosi returned to the pitch in the 69th minute and finished his third-ever Super Rugby game with 6 tackles, though he didn't make a metre from 1 carry.
Reserve Lock - Justin Sangster (No rating)
Was substituted on in the 64th minute for Blackwell and didn't get involved enough to be rated, running 4 metres off 1 carry and making 1 tackle. Good to see the rookie back on the pitch after injury struggles.
Reserve Loose Forward - Caleb Delany (7/10)
Delany was bought on for Prinsep and made just one fewer tackle (6 tackles) than the man he replaced. Was able to generate quick-ball for the team through 3 passes off the lineout, is becoming somewhat of a locked-in substitute due to his utility value.
Reserve Halfback - Jamie Booth (No rating)
The Hurricanes were mostly found on the back foot during Booth's 16 minutes, he only made 16 passes and 1 tackle so didn't have enough involvement to be rated.
Reserve First-Five - Aidan Morgan (7/10)
Morgan, wearing jersey 22, was bought on for Garden-Bachop with just 11 minutes left and despite the little time left he rose to the occasion, running 3 metres off his single carry - leading to the winning try. Also made 1 pass and 1 tackle. He is the Hurricanes' best 10.
Reserve Midfielder - Peter Umaga-Jensen (6/10)
Umaga-Jensen was bought on for Moorby with 16 minutes left and though he didn't get much time on the ball (3 metres off 1 carry and 2 passes), this allowed Barrett back to 15, creating far more tactical stability. Made 4 tackles too. Start him at 12 next week.