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Wellington’s Hurricanes beat the Lions 20-3 at Westpac Stadium to become the 2016 Super Rugby Champions.
The Hurricanes also hosted the Super Rugby final last year but they were beaten 14-21 by the Highlanders.
The Hurricanes were the only New Zealand team who had not won a Super Rugby title but now all five New Zealand teams have won a title.
The victory makes New Zealand the first nation to have all of it’s teams win a title as only the Bulls have won a title for South Africa while the Brumbies, Waratahs and Reds have won Super Rugby titles for Australia.
The Hurricanes outscored the Lions by two tries to none which means that Hurricanes did not concede a try throughout the play offs and went through almost 300 minutes without conceding a try.
Earlier this season the Lions hosted the Hurricanes in Johannesburg and that match was won 17-50 by the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes championship win, coming a year after they ended runners-up at the same venue, added another glorious chapter to New Zealand’s vice-like grip hold on the South Hemisphere competition.
The Hurricanes finally added their name on the trophy after 21 years of trying alongside New Zealand’s four other franchises.
The stage was set for the Hurricanes rather than the Lions as the ‘Cake Tin’ presented similar conditions to that prevailed a fortnight ago when they played the quarterfinal against the Sharks.
After an initial period in which the Lions showed their prowess on attack and defence, the Hurricanes flyhalf Beauden Barrett showed that he and his fellow players had a better understanding of the nuances of playing in rain, wind and soggy underfoot conditions.
Early on, Barrett snatched the initiative with a deft touch finder to transfer play deep into the Lions’ half.
The Hurricanes subsequently stole the Lions’ line-out ball and then moments later Barrett unleashed a cross-kick which left the opposition stranded. Rightwing Cory Jane latched on to the high ball and ran in to score but the TMO Ben Skeen spotted an infringement in the build-up movement and the try was disallowed in the sixth minute.
However, Barrett’s intervention at that stage was to prove telling in the next 15 minutes as his five-point contribution allowed the Hurricanes ran up a 10-0 lead. First, he slotted a penalty and then he banged over a touchline conversion after Jane was not be denied in his second attempt to cross the whitewash.
Jane’s try was the result of an absolute howler after the Lions tried to run the ball from their own tryline with disastrous consequences. Two passes later Lions centre Lionel Mapoe chipped ahead but the ball ended up in Jane’s waiting hands and he was given an unchallenged passage to the tryline.
This passage of play decided the Lions’ first-half fortunes as they never again managed to strike up the necessary cohesion to overcome this 10-point setback.
Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies was on target with a 25th-minute penalty to reduce the deficit but overall he was a pale shadow of the player that was in the forefront of his side’s magnificent performances of late.
Equally, up to this stage, his halfback partner Faf de Klerk was equally off colour and unable to provide the spark as he tried to work with mostly slowed-down ball.
Heading off towards the halftime break, the Lions on occasions enjoyed front-foot ball but the Hurricanes coped well defensively and even better when they started to dominate at scrum time.
When the teams returned for second-half play, the Hurricanes pinned the Lions down in their own half for the opening 10 minutes until De Klerk initiated a promising counter-attack to transfer the pressure. However, once the Hurricanes saw off that threat Barrett landed a 51st-minute penalty to open up a 10-point lead with a 13-3 scoreline.
In the ensuing play, De Klerk showed a few fine touches with some brave plays but his efforts were undone by errors and poor option-taking from his teammates. The Lions, however, were still rock solid on defence and they might have earned some reward at this stage but Jantjies fluffed a penalty around the hour mark.
Barrett again imposed himself on the match in the 68th minute when the Lions made an absolute hash of line-out defence and he pounced for a converted try which was the cue for 35 000 wildly cheering spectators that the 2016 championship had finally been decided as the celebratory chant Olé, Olé, Olé rang out at the stadium.
Beauden Barrett was named Man of the match while Victor Vito celebrated his 100th and final Super Rugby cap with a winners medal.
Final Score Hurricanes 20 (10) Lions 3 (3)
Tries – C.Jane, B.Barrett
Pen – B.Barrett 2
Con – B.Barett 2
Pen – E.Jantjies
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1:Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 2:Ben O’Keeffe
TMO : Ben Skeen
15 James Marshall , 14 Cory Jane , 13 Matt Proctor , 12 Willis Halaholo , 11 Jason Woodward , 10 Beauden Barrett , 9 TJ Perenara (c) , 8 Victor Vito , 7 Ardie Savea , 6 Brad Shields , 5 Michael Fatialofa , 4 Vaea Fifita , 3 Ben May , 2 Dane Coles (c), 1 Loni Uhila
Replacements: Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Reggie Goodes/ Michael Kainga, Mark Abbott, Callum Gibbins/Tony Lamborn, Jamison Gibson-Park, Vince Aso, Julian Savea. ,
1 Dylan Smith , 2 Malcolm Marx , 3 Julian Redelinghuys , 4 Andries Ferreira , 5 Franco Mostert , 6 Jaco Kriel , 7 Warwick Tecklenburg , 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 9 Faf De Klerk , 10 Elton Jantjies , 11 Courtnal Skosan , 12 Rohan Janse Van Rensburg , 13 Lionel Mapoe , 14 Ruan Combrinck , 15 Andries Coetzee
Replacements: 16. Armand Van Der Merwe , 17. Corne Fourie , 18. Jacques Van Rooyen , 19. Lourens Erasmus,20. Ruan Ackermann ,21.Ross Cronje,22. Howard Mnisi ,23. Jaco Van Der Walt
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