The Hurricanes are the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby Champions after the New Zealand side defeated the Emirates Lions of South Africa 20-3 in the final at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Playing at home in wet and cold conditions, the Hurricanes were determined to make amends for the disappointment of losing the final last year at the same venue, and having also lost the 2006 final.
The Emirates Lions had hoped to join three-time winners the Vodacom Bulls as the second South African team to lift the coveted trophy. The Vodacom Bulls won their titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
It was a game where the strongest defending outfit were facing the most attacking side this year, with the defence of the home side prevailing in the end to bring to an end the Emirates Lions’ memorable season.
The side from Wellington stifled the free-running style of their South African opponents with a steely defensive effort, which was characterised by an effective rushed defence.
Having had an earlier try disallowed, wing Cory Jane scored the opening try for the Hurricanes when he collected a kick from centre Lionel Mapoe to cross over in the right-hand corner. Flyhalves Beauden Barrett and Elton Jantjies traded penalties to bring the halftime score to 10-3 in favour of the home side.
The New Zealanders managed to keep the pressure on the Lions with their tight defence and it was Barrett who pounced on a kick-though from a lineout in the second half to touch down for a second try. He duly converted his own try and slotted another successful penalty later to stretch the lead to 20-3, and put his team out of reach of his opponents from the Highveld.
Winning captain, Dane Coles, summed up his team’s success by saying: “It means a lot to this group. I thought we put in a massive defensive effort. There was also a good balance between having a lot of confidence going into the game and believing in our abilities. We did that well over the 80 minutes.”
Hurricanes – Tries: Cory Jane, Beauden Barrett. Conversions: Barrett (2). Penalties: Barrett (2).
Emirates Lions – Penalty: Elton Jantjies.