In front of a rather lively home crowd of 20,000 at Bloemfontein, the free-staters always seemed to have an edge over their opponents, slightly dominating the possession and territory stakes. Despite this, after 30 minutes the score was 6-0 in favour of the Hurricanes, who had defended solidly. The rain poured down throughout the match, which probably influenced the high number of turnovers conceded by both teams.
Shortly before halftime, perennial bovver boy Kevin Yates was binned for taking a man out of play, after Christian Cullen had already apparently deliberately knocked forward a pass by the same man. It was a brilliant team effort which saved a certain try. However, this also put the Cats on the score board for the first time. The rain stopped during the break, then proceeded to hose down as the second half began.
The second half was a tit-for-tat exchange of penalties and the home side made the most of their opponents’ mistakes. The Cats played a better kicking game, getting the ball up field and then forcing the Hurricanes backs to concede possession (or waiting for Jonah Lomu to once again fluff the high ball). Again also, the Hurricane forwards were forgetting the ‘D’ word and doing very silly things under pressure. Louis Koen had already equalised the score and when Gordon Slater pulled a man to ground, the resulting penalty put the visitors 3 points behind.
There seemed to be no way to crack the home side’s defence and despite a few storming runs, the Hurricanes once again came away with a loss. The bonus point will be little consolation to this team or their fans. At the start of the season, the team based in the home of the National Champions was odds-on to win the Super 12. That is looking increasingly far-fetched for the under-achieving Hurricanes.