In nearly an identical performance of their first meeting in 2015, won by 58 points to 17, the Hurricanes Youth Rugby Council Under 18 Team scored an impressive 64 points to 20 victory over the Crusaders Junior Knights Team at Rugby Park in Christchurch on Saturday.
Scoring a total of 10 tries to 3, the Hurricanes team played a rampant secondhalf, scoring an unanswered 47 points after trailing by three points, 17-20 at the half-time break. The visitors were rocked early by two good tries to the Crusaders, with first-five Will Havili showing good vision and tactical kicking in giving the home team early territory and a mental advantage.
While the Hurricanes hit back with two good tries of their own, the structure of the Crusaders attack gave second-five Logan Bell the opportunity to secure the lead as half-time approached, with Havili adding a penalty for good measure. However, an up-field surge by the Hurricanes propping duo of Tim Farrell and Xavier Numia, resulted in Numia equalling the number of tries scored by both teams in the first spell, at the conclusion of a very entertaining first-half.
Whatever was said by the Coaches in the Hurricanes Changing Rooms at halftime had the desired effect, as the visitors took two quick tries in the first two minutes of the second spell, with rampant No. 8 Brayden Iose adding a third. With Havili substituted for the home team after the break, the Crusaders seemed to lose some of their earlier structure and momentum.
Taking full advantage, right-wing Vilimoni Koroi scored a double before being replaced, by which time the Hurricanes had rattled up 50 points. The half-back, first-five combination of Carlos Price and Lincoln McClutchie proved problematic to the hosts, with Price earning a personal tally of 19 points in the match, while McClutchie was able to create numerous opportunities for the outside backs to score well-executed tries. For the home team, the right-wing, full-back combination of Mikaele Ravalawa and Ngane Punivai bamboozled the visitors defensive line on occasion, with both scoring good tries in the first stanza.
Ravalawa, a member of the Fiji Sevens Team at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games scythed through the Hurricanes defence early in the game, while his team-mate on the left-wing Leicester Fainga’anuku also looked dangerous. But the deciding factor of the match was the quality of the bench of the Hurricanes, with those that came on for substituted players increasing the tempo of the final quarter of the game.
Late tries scored by Ueta Tufuga and Te Ariki Te Puni under-lined the superiority of the visitors. For the home team, Captain and open-side flanker Cam Russell battled gamely, while No. 8 Cruz Topai-Aveai refused to take a backward step all game.
Hurricanes Youth Rugby Council Under 18, 64 – Tries: Lincoln McClutchie, Mosese Dawai, Xavier Numia, Carlos Price, Brayden Iose, Matene Ruawai, Vilimoni Koroi (2), Te Ariki Te Puni, Ueta Tufuga. Carlos Price, 7C. Crusaders Junior Knights Under 18, 20 – Tries: Ngane Punivai, Mikaele Ravalawa, Logan Bell. Will Havili, 1P, 1C.
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