Hurricanes overcome 16-point deficit to beat Sunwolves

The Hurricanes have survived a massive scare against the Sunwolves.

They found themselves down 23-7 just before halftime in front of a 27,000-strong capacity crowd at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo on Friday night, but kept the home side scoreless in the second half to surge back to win 29-23.

TJ Perenara, Ben Lam, Chase Tiatia and Wes Goosen scored their four tries, with the latter three coming in a 19-minute spell through the middle stages of the second half.

While they got the win, it was a performance riddled with a plethora of errors - they conceded 16 turnovers by the time all was said and done.

Knock ons in mauls, knock ons over the tryline, knock ons without contact, not straight lineout throws, missed tackles, high tackles, tackles in mid-air at lineouts, poor defensive reads, not out penalty kicks for touch, running the ball into touch; you name a rugby mistake and they just about committed it, particularly in the first half. 

But in amongst all those inaccuracies were some superb pieces of individual play. 

The Sunwolves as well should be credited with their contribution to what was a surprisingly thrilling game of rugby.

They opened the scoring in the sixth minute when Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, who was selected at second-five after starting most of the season at No 8, went through a gaping hole off a lineout move, running 35m before passing to Semisi Masirewa to score in the corner.

Following a Hayden Parker penalty, Perenara hit back for the Hurricanes in the 15th minute, darting in from the edge of the Sunwolves' 22 after getting the better of the home side's lazy ruck defence with a simple dummy.

Parker added two more penalties before laying on an inch-perfect crosskick for Masirewa to run onto and score untouched. Parker added the conversion to make it 23-7 after 29 minutes.

The Hurricanes had to strike back quickly and should have done so when Perenara made a diving effort to try to dot down in the left corner, but the ball was knocked out of his hands by Warren-Vosayaco.

Immediately after, both Tiatia and Ngani Laumape took poor options when wingers were available to potentially score tries.

Fletcher Smith did slot a penalty after the halftime hooter to cut the deficit to 13 at the break. The young first-five endured another up-and-down night in his first start since round two.

More inaccuracy cost the Hurricanes four minutes into the second half when Perenara put a pass too far in front of Tiatia with the tryline begging following a good break down the left wing from Laumape.

They got a 5m lineout two minutes later and somehow managed to knock on when transferring the ball in the rolling maul.

But those schoolboy errors were followed by a sublime bit of skill from Laumape, who put an exquisite long grubber kick through for Lam to score in the left corner. That was the end of Lam's night as he succumb to what appeared to be either a calf injury or cramp.

Tiatia backed that up by showing good athleticism to dot the ball down with centimetres to spare in the left corner after replacement lock Isaia Walker-Leawere charged down a Gerhard van den Heever clearing kick. Smith nailed the widest of touchline conversions to get his side to within one point with 20 minutes to play.

The Hurricanes were putting a lot of pressure on the Sunwolves through the final 20 minutes, but the silly errors came back, particularly in the 67th minute when they won a scrum penalty, only for it to be overturned when replacement forward Sam Henwood decided to judo throw Fumiaka Tanaka.

​But again the error was followed by skill.

Goosen found space down the right wing, grubbered ahead for himself and toed ahead before diving on the ball to score and put the Hurricanes ahead for the first time with 12 minutes remaining.

The Hurricanes' much-maligned scrum came up with a massive effort five minutes from time to win a scrum against the feed on their own 5m line. They grabbed a scrum penalty just before the final hooter to ice the game.

The Hurricanes played the game without Beauden and Jordie Barrett, as well as Ardie Savea, with the trio on All Blacks rest weeks.