The Hurricanes remain top of the Super Rugby ladder after holding off an improved Queensland Reds to win 35-19 on Sunday.
A bumper crowd of 26,374 at Suncorp Stadium saw the Reds battle manfully and at one stage hold a nine-point lead – only to once again prove to be their own worst enemy with more mistakes and poor execution.
It was far from the blowout result some had predicted but while pleased with the effort, Reds coach Richard Graham admitted ill discipline and handling errors made a difficult task almost impossible.
“You don’t tolerate it but you understand there’s probably going to be a moment in the game where (the Hurricanes) just go nuts and score a couple of quick tries,” Graham said.
“What’s important is you don’t contribute to that, and that was probably the thing – on a couple of occasions tonight we contributed to it.”
It looked like the same old Reds had rolled out as they coughed up four penalties inside the first 10 minutes, allowing the Hurricanes all the early momentum.
But for all their faults, the Reds proved damaging when they eventually got their hands on the ball.
Samu Kerevi enhanced his Wallabies case with two tries six minutes apart – the first of them the more impressive as he breezed past All Blacks pair Julian Savea and Conrad Smith.
“He’d probably be 15 games into his Super Rugby career,” Graham said of the 21-year-old Kerevi.
“Each game he plays he learns and he’s got an appetite for it as well.
“I’ve got no doubt if he continues to work hard and improve in all the areas he needs to, he can definitely play at the top level.”
Yet just as easily as they surged in front, Queensland fell apart.
Tackles stopped sticking, the Hurricanes sniffed an opportunity and they took it with a penalty and two converted tries from TJ Perenara and Callum Gibbins before the break.
The Reds were by no means finished and in the 46th minute they struck back through Liam Gill, who spun out of a tackle after a scrum and scored under the posts.
But from there on it was a case of one step forwards, two steps back.
James O’Connor converted Gill’s try to make it 23-19, but his night ended four minutes later when he had to go off after a head knock.
Then Gill joined him on the sidelines, earning a yellow card in the 57th minute and opening the door for the Hurricanes to take control with late tries to Savea and Perenara.
Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said losing in Brisbane was “not an option” on the back of their loss to the NSW Waratahs last weekend.
“The intensity that the Reds had to defend (with) in the end was going to create some space for us or take a toll,” he said.
“We spent all last week looking at their games – they were in a heck of a lot of their games but never quite able to finish it off.
“I think it’s tough for any organisation when you have that many men down.”