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Lions : Hurricanes were smarter than us

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Lions captain Warren Whiteley has said that the 2016 Super Rugby champion Hurricanes were smarter than them in the final.

The Hurricanes beat the Lions 20-3 in Wellington New Zealand to win their first Super Rugby title having led 10-3 at half time.

Lions captain Whiteley gave credit to the Hurricanes for their performance.

“The conditions were tough, but they were tough for both sides,” said Whiteley.

“We didn’t adapt as well as they did and they were smarter than us on the day. They took their two opportunities, which came from our mistakes, and that’s where the score comes from.”

Although they failed in their bid to win their first Super Rugby title, the side from the Highveld can be proud of their achievements the past season, which was their best-ever showing in the demanding competition.

Up to the final match, the Lions proved to be the most attacking side in the competition and they won many plaudits with their exciting rugby.

On Saturday, however, they had to deal with wet and cold conditions, plus a Hurricanes side playing at home and determined to make amends for the disappointment of losing the final last year at the same venue. They also finished as the losing finalists in 2006.

Dane Coles of the Hurricanes said it was a special victory for his side.

“It means a lot to this group. I thought we put in a massive defensive effort,” said Coles.

“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.”

The Lions had hoped to join three-time winners the Bulls as the second South African team to lift the coveted trophy. The Bulls won their titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

It was a game where the strongest defending outfit was facing the most attacking side this year, and on a cold and wet evening, the defence of the home side prevailed in the end to bring to an end the 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 their highly-effective rushed defence.

After having 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 then traded penalties to bring the halftime score to 10-3 in favour of the home side.

The Canes 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 dot down the crucial second try.

The Canes pivot converted his own try and slotted another successful penalty later to stretch the score to 20-3 and out of the reach of their Highveld opponents.

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