Things started badly....and never really improved. Winger Jonah Lomu got the ball in the first 30 seconds of the game and proceeded to drop it in the opposition '22 (instantly relegating his status from 'local hero' to 'that doofus from Otara'). It also turns out that he has forgotten to tackle during his 'recovery' from a broken finger (Pinetree Meads would happily play with a broken arm). The man is 1.96m tall and 118kg...why he feels compelled to grab his opponents by the jersey and scrag them into touch is beyond me..
The first try was scored by Adrian Cashmore in the fifth minute of the game, after a little chip-kick by Centre Iliesa Tanivula, and then vice-versa 15 minutes later. The third try was just plain embarrassing, as midget first-five Orene Ai'i slipped past Filo Tiatia's limp-wristed tackle to dot under the twigs. The two times the 'Canes actually had possession in the half resulted in two completely arsed-up try-scoring opportunities (in one case Lomu kicking, where he could have minced over the line unimpeded).
Two consolation penalties were made by David Holwell in the last ten minutes. However by this time, the novelty hats had well and truly disappeared. It was 26-6 at half time, and quite frankly, I needed to get drunk.
Although the Hurricanes actually outscored the smurfs in the second half, it wasn't quite enough to compensate for the pathetic efforts of the first 40. The blue boys contented themselves with defending for forty minutes, testing the limits of the off-side rule and depriving the Hurricanes of much possession. Tito crashed over for the 'Canes in the dying minutes while Cashmore and Holwell traded penalties.
Sufficed to say the lads are going to have to transform themselves into a bloody football team by next week. The Crusaders are a different outfit: they drink real beer (unlike the chardonnay-sipping poseurs from Auckland), they have bad haircuts and possibly the most unattractive captain in the competition. Be afraid, be very afraid.....