Hurricanes winger Ben Lam scored a hat-trick of tries to help the Hurricanes to a 28-19 victory over the Lions at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
The Hurricanes outscored the Lions by four tries to three in the match to keep their unbeaten home record against the Lions after 11 Super rugby matches.
The last time these two teams met at this venue was for the 2016 Super rugby final which the Hurricanes won 20-3. This match was a more even contest but the Lions never really looked like they would win.
The Hurricanes were the first to score in the match as in the 6th minute Lam crossed the line for the first of his three tries by shoving off Ruan Combrinck and then darting for the try line.
Weather conditions played a small role in the match but had the greatest impact on the kickers as the posts swayed in the wind. This proved no problem for Beauden Barrett who had a perfect match with the boot by kicking all of his four conversion attempts.
Throughout the match the Hurricanes would do all of the hard work by making ground only for the Lions to turn the ball over and in most cases kick the ball away within two phases. This tactic repeatedly gave the ball to the Hurricanes backs who would counter attack from their half.
In the 24th minute the Hurricanes won a line out and moved the ball across the field where Matt Proctor dummied a pass and slipped off Combrinck’s tackle before offloading to Ardie Savea who scored the second of the hosts tries.
The Lions scored a crucial try which kept them in the contest before the break when Nic Groom slipped over from short range next to the posts.
Elton Jantjies added the conversion which took the half time score to 14-7 to the hosts.
The Hurricanes hit back four minutes into the second half when the Hurricanes sucked in the Lions defence and then went out wide with a long pass to Lam who dodged three tacklers and scored in the corner.
Barrett judged the wind perfectly as the posts swayed from side to side and slotted the conversion from the touchline.
Nine minutes later Lam crossed the line again for his hat-trick try and again Barrett kicked the conversion.
The Lions hit back immediately though and Marnus Schoeman burrowed his way to the try line. with another short range try. Jantjies conversion attempt was well wide.
Although the Hurricanes continued to threaten on occasions in the match the had already been decided by the start of the final quarter.
Sylvian Mahuza scored a consolation try which cost meant that the Hurricanes would have to score twice for the bonus point but the energy in the match had already been lost so the Hurricanes held on for their eighth straight victory this season.
Next week in Round 13 the Lions play their final match on tour against the Highlanders in Dunedin while the Hurrricanes travel to Auckland to play the Blues.
Final Score Hurricanes 28 (14) Lions 19 (7)
Tries – B.Lam 3, A.Savea
Con – B.Barrett 4
Tries – N.Groom, M. Schoeman, S.Mahuza
Con – E.Jantjies 2
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 1:Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2:Richard Kelly
TMO :Shane McDermott
15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Julian Savea , 13 Matt Proctor , 12 Ngani Laumape , 11 Ben Lam , 10 Beauden Barrett , 9 Finlay Christie , 8 Gareth Evans , 7 Ardie Savea , 6 Brad Shields (c) , 5 Michael Fatialofa , 4 Vaea Fifita , 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen , 2 Ricky Riccitelli , 1 Toby Smith
Replacements : 16 James O’Reilly , 17 Chris Eves , 18 Ben May , 19 Sam Lousi , 20 Reed Prinsep , 21 Jamie Booth , 22 Ihaia West , 23 Vince Aso
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Franco Mostert (captain), 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Ashlon Davids, 22 Rohan janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza