The Hurricanes were defeated 14-48 by the Bulls in Pretoria on Sunday morning (NZT) in their Investec Super Rugby round 12 match.
Out scored six tries to two, the Hurricanes struggled for continuity throughout much of the contest, handling errors and lineout woes letting them down.
They conceded early tries, including two intercepts, and also lost captain and centre Conrad Smith to a head injury in the first half. As a consequence they trailed 20-0 midway through the first half and then 27-0 just before the break.
There were hopes of a comeback when halfback TJ Perenara completed a sweeping movement and scored the first of his two second half tries immediately after the turnaround. However the home side kept their composure and held on to win.
The Hurricanes play the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in their next match, next Saturday morning (NZT).
Bulls first five-eighth Morne Steyn kicked an early penalty from a scrum infringement to give the Bulls a 3-0 lead.
The Hurricanes went close to scoring the game’s first try after a break and kick ahead into the corner by first five-eighth Beauden Barrett for wing Julian Savea to run on to. The ball beat chaser and defender into the in-goal.
The Bulls regained territory and won another penalty. Steyn was successful and the Bulls led 6-0.
The home side went further ahead when, with the Hurricanes working their way out of their own 22 with ball in hand, Bulls centre JJ Engelbrecht grabbed an intercept and raced through to score under the posts. Steyn’s conversion made it 13-0 with a quarter of the match played.
The Bulls scored their second try there minutes later through blindside flanker Deon Stegman, scoring after a lineout in the corner and a rolling maul, extending the lead to 20-0.
The Hurricanes then lost skipper Conrad Smith, who was escorted off the field after taking a knock to his head while making a head-on tackle on this opposite Engelbrecht.
After a long period of attacking, free-flowing play, Steyn was presented with another penalty. But a rare miss gave the Hurricanes a 22 dropout.
This was followed by the Bulls’ third try, and second intercept score, wing Akona Ndungane rushing up in the line and intercepting a long pass and skipping 20 metres to score. Steyn added the extras to extend the lead to 27-0.
Right on halftime, the Hurricanes attacked off a lineout and went wide through several phases inside the Bulls’ 22. But the movement was ended with a turnover and the Hurricanes went into the break trailing three tries to nil.
The Hurricanes made a flying start to the second half and were rewarded with a try straightaway. Second five-eighth Tusi Pisi broke from a ruck inside his 22 and linked up with first five-eighth Beuaden Barrett and then halfback TJ Perenara who finished the sweeping movement and scored under the posts. Barrett converted, closing the margin to 27-7.
The Bulls replied five minutes later with their bonus point try, loosehead prop Deon Greyling crashing over from close range and the TMO awarding the try after a long period of deliberation. This restored the Bulls’ 27-point halftime lead.
The Hurricanes struck back with their second try, second five-eighth Tim Bateman creating space on the outside in broken play and handing a pass to halfback Perenara in support to sprint clear and score his second try.
A superb break by Barrett up into Bulls territory had the home side stretched to breaking point. But they held on and weathered a possible Hurricanes comeback. Twice in this period play the Hurricanes held the ball for 10 plus phases.
The Bulls regrouped and regained field position. Hurricanes lock Jason Eaton was sinbinned and the Bulls soon capitalised when replacement wing Lionel Mapoe punched through a hole from close range to score the try that sealed the win for the home side.
They scored their sixth and final try of the match with two minutes left, replacement back Louis Foche crossing and then converting his own try.
Hurricanes 14 (TJ Perenara 2 tries; Beauden Barrett 2 con) lost to the Bulls 48 (JJ Engelbrecht, Deon Stegman, Akona Ndungane, Deon Greyling, Lionel Mapoe, Louis Foche tries; Morne Steyn 2 pen, 4 con; Foche con) HT: 27-0
The scoring action (by minute):
6th: Morne Steyn penalty. Bulls 3-0
12th: Morne Steyn penalty. Bulls 6-0
19t h: JJ Engelbrecht try. Bulls 11-0
20th: Morne Steyn conversion. Bulls 13-0
23rd: Deon Stegman try. Bulls 18-0
24th: Morne Steyn conversion. Bulls 20-0
37th: Akona Ndungane try. Bulls 25-0
38th: Morne Steyn conversion. Bulls 27-0
41st: TJ Perenara try. Bulls 27-5
42nd: Beauden Barrett conversion. Bulls 27-7
46th: Deon Greyling try. Bulls 32-7
47th: Morne Styen conversion. Bulls 34-7
54th: TJ Perenara try. Bulls 34-12
55th: Beauden Barrett conversion. Bulls 34-14
71st: Lionel Mapoe try. Bulls 39-14
72nd: Morne Steyn conversion. Bulls 41-14
78th: Louis Foche try. Bulls 46-14
79th: Louis Foche conversion. Bulls 48-14
The Hurricanes team was:
1. Ben Franks Replaced by Reggie Goodes, 67th minute
2. Ash Dixon
3. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen Replaced by Ben May, 46th minute
4. Jeremy Thrush Replaced by Mark Reddish, 65th minute
5. Jason Eaton
6. Brad Shields
7. Karl Lowe Replaced by Jack lam 46th minute
8. Victor Vito Replaced by Faifili Levave, 76th minute
9. TJ Perenara
10. Beauden Barrett
11. Julian Savea
12. Tusi Pisi
13. Conrad Smith (c) Replaced by Tim Bateman, 28th minute
14. Alapati Leiua
15. Andre Taylor
16. Reggie Goodes
17. Ben May
18. Mark Reddish
19. Faifili Levave
20. Jack Lam
21. Chris Smylie
22. Tim Bateman