Hurricanes hold off fast-finishing Force
April 19, 2013
Hurricanes flanker Brad Shield crosses over to give the home side a 15-3 advantage at half-time
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The Western Force unleashed a brave second-half fightback but it wasn't enough as the Hurricanes secured a 22-16 Super Rugby victory in Wellington on Friday night.
The Force looked headed for defeat after Tusi Pisi's 49th-minute try gave the Hurricanes a 22-6 lead.
A dazzling solo try from Force half-back Alby Mathewson sparked the visitors into action shortly after, and the Hurricanes looked vulnerable when substitute James Broadhurst was sin-binned in the 72nd minute due to his team's repeated infringements.
But with the deficit cut to just six points, the Force couldn't find a way through to score the winning try, with the Hurricanes holding on to secure their fifth win of the season. Force coach Michael Foley made some notable changes to his side after last week's 16-14 win over the Crusaders.
In-form winger Alfie Mafi started on the bench, while inside centre Kyle Godwin was rested after his heavy workload this season.
The bruising defensive effort against the Crusaders - combined with a six-day turnaround and a long trip to New Zealand - appeared to have a big effect on the Force early as the Hurricanes took a 15-3 lead into half-time.
And when Hurricanes five-eighth Pisi crossed in the corner shortly after the break, the situation was looking glum for the Force.
The Hurricanes proved too strong against a spirited Western Force in Wellington
But they refused to give in, unleashing some strong work at the breakdown to turn momentum their way.
Mathewson couldn't believe his luck in the 58th minute when he was able to slice through the Hurricanes' defence in an inspired 25m run to score the Force's first try.
Jayden Hayward's 73rd-minute penalty reduced the deficit to six points, but the Force couldn't make the most of their numerical advantage in the dying minutes.
"We were working really hard but obviously missing some leaders within the team," Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith said. "It wasn't pretty but we'll take a win, she's a tough competition."
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