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Hurricanes make first final

By By Daryl Fenemor

Published: 9:22PM Friday May 19, 2006 Source: One Sport

After three away losses in semifinals the Hurricanes have won their first semifinal at home 16-14 against the Waratahs at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Friday night.

A packed house of 34,500 screaming fans saw the home side again show a huge amount of passion and determination to repeat the effort of their 19-14 win in Sydney last week.

Lome Fa'atau scored the Hurricanes one try, while Peter Hewat was the only one to cross the line for the Waratahs, with the tight match decided by some good kicking by three different Hurricanes kickers, most notably a 50 metre penalty from Jimmy Gopperth nine minutes from fulltime that gave the home side back the lead they had only just surrendered.

The forward pack laid a good foundation with domination in most areas, apart from the well-contested lineouts, and especially with the rolling mauls and some key scrums.

The backs were as dangerous as always, with David Holwell and Piri Weepu directing play well and giving the Hurricanes better field position than last week.

Winning the kickoff led to a good start for the Hurricanes, except for a couple of Tana Umaga handling errors, and that was rewarded with a 50 metre Piri Weepu penalty inside the first five minutes.

The home side dominated the possession in the first ten minutes and David Holwell took the closer penalty to double the score.

The Waratahs came into the match with more possession and after the lack of success tasted by their forwards last week they spread it quickly through their backs. The Hurricanes defence was eventually broken by Lote Tuqiri through the midfield and the try came to Peter Hewat in the right wing corner.

Hewat missed the sideline conversion but put the visitors ahead after the first quarter with a penalty.

The Hurricanes forward pack made a big statement as they destroyed the Waratahs scrum in the 30th minute and the following scrum, now to the Canes, saw a quality set piece try finished by Lome Fa'atau off an inside pass from Umaga. Fa'atau's 10th try of the competition was converted by Holwell.

A couple of great kicks from Holwell first put the Hurricanes hot on attack and then saw Shannon Paku just miss out on a try as he dived on the ball but could only force it on the line.

Paku came close again late in the half after a speedy break from Isaia Toeava but they forced the play and turned the ball over.

The second half started like the first with the Hurricanes starting strongest but this time Weepu's penalty attempt came back off the post.

Loose forward Chris Masoe made a great break from his own 22 and some wonderful interplay and handling put the Hurricanes hot on attack. The ensuing penalty was kicked for touch rather than the posts and in the lineout drive the ball was lost forward.

In another change from last week the Waratahs this week took their penalty attempt and Hewat was successful to close the gap to two points with 15 minutes remaining.

The Waratahs finally took the lead through another penalty after the blue forwards had come close to pushing over from a lineout on the Hurricanes' line.

A scrum penalty on halfway against the Waratahs, after the Hurricanes were ahead at the kick off, saw Jimmy Gopperth put the home side straight back in front.

The Hurricanes then kept the ball tight as they wound down the clock and they even tapped a penalty just before the hooter to soak up the final seconds.

The Hurricanes will now face either the Crusaders at Jade Stadium or the Bulls at home in their first final next weekend.

The injury concerns from the match were Isaia Toeava, who came off with a shoulder injury, and Holwell, who was concussed trying to tackle big Waratahs no.8 David Lyons.

Hurricanes: Tries: Lome Fa'atau. Cons: David Holwell. Pens: Piri Weepu, Holwell, Jimmy Gopperth.

Waratahs: Tries: Peter Hewat. Pens: Hewat (3).

MVP Points: 3. Piri Weepu, 2. Andrew Hore, 1. Paul Tito.