Beauden Barrett kicks the Hurricanes to a narrow victory.
The Wellington Hurricanes set out to run the Northern Bulls into submission but in the end had to rely on the boot of Beauden Barrett to pull off a 25-20 Super 15 win on Saturday.
Barrett’s 20-point contribution ensured the Hurricanes continued their revival after a horror start to the season.
After producing just one win from their first five matches, the Hurricanes have now won two in a row as they backed up from a narrow win over the Canterbury Crusaders last week.
It lifted them to 16 points, equal with the Golden Lions, NSW Waratahs and Auckland Blues, and one behind the fourth-placed Bulls who also have three wins as well as a draw against the defending champion Waikato Chiefs.
The Bulls outscored the Hurricanes two tries to one, but it was the Hurricanes who dominated territory, and while they had problems breaching the Bulls’ defence they had no problem picking up points from penalties.
Barrett enjoyed 100 percent success with six penalties from six attempts, including two late in the game to regain the lead for the Hurricanes after the Bulls had sneaked in front 20-19 with 14 minutes to play.
“It nearly got away from us but we came back. It’s a tight competition,” a relieved Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith said.
“They’re a great defensive unit to hold us out and we had to change our game plan.”
Barrett gave the Hurricanes a flying start when he landed an early penalty and then set up their sole try with a deft cross kick.
The ball was neatly taken by a leaping Cory Jane on the right wing who flicked it inside to chasing full-back Andre Taylor who crossed for the try.
Barrett’s conversion had the Hurricanes out to a 10-0 lead before the Bulls were able to get on board with a penalty to Jacques-Louis Potgieter the first time they were within striking distance of the posts.
Potgieter and Barrett traded further penalties for the Hurricanes to lead 16-6 just before half-time when Jurgen Visser scored the Bulls’ first try from a simple kick-chase move.
It took 25 minutes for the first points to be scored in the second half when Barrett kicked his fourth penalty before the Bulls hit the front from a try scored and converted by replacement back Handre Pollard to lead 20-19.
But it was a short-lived advantage. With the clock counting down, Barrett backed himself with a 40-metre penalty on an acute angle to regain the lead then boosted the margin with another penalty on full-time.
The Hurricanes have a bye next week while the Bulls play the Otago Highlanders in Dunedin.