Super Rugby: Hurricanes lose but secure home quarter-final, red-card controversy in Brisbane
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 13/07/18 2:17pm
A second-half comeback by the Hurricanes was just enough to seal a home quarter-final next week despite losing 28-24 to the Chiefs, while the Reds ended their season with a 48-27 win over the Sunwolves.
Chiefs 28-24 Hurricanes
The Chiefs had raced out to a 21-0 lead courtesy of tries to Brodie Retallick, Neil Weber and Solomon Alaimalo, before the Hurricanes got back to 21-19 through tries to Wes Goosen, Blade Thomson and Ben May with about 15 minutes remaining.
May crossed about two minutes after Jonny Fa'auli was given a red card by referee Mike Fraser for a high tackle on Goosen and the Chiefs centre will likely miss next week's quarter-final between the two sides in Wellington.
'Magic Johnson would have been happy with that pass!'@ChiefsRugby are on course for the big win they need to leapfrog @HurricanesRugby in the #SuperRugby standings. Solomon Alaimalo's try gives them a 21-0 lead at the break. Second half coming soon on @SkySports Action. pic.twitter.com/UJEu4L040L— Sky Sports Rugby (@SkySportsRugby) July 13, 2018
Hurricanes' winger Julian Savea scored a try on the final hooter to ensure his side cemented fourth-place on 51 competition points, with the Chiefs finishing on 49.
Both sides had already qualified for the play-offs and were really only playing for home advantage next week, with the Hurricanes holding the advantage on competition points and having a better overall points differential.
The Hurricanes, however, have looked discombobulated since they struggled to overcome the Reds in mid-May losing their next three games before they beat the Blues 42-24 last week.
They continued that pattern of erratic play in the first half with their pack disjointed and not working as a unit, while the backs' passing was laboured and poorly directed, which put their runners under pressure.
Both Weber's and Alaimalo's tries were products of breakdown in the Hurricanes attacks, with the scrum-half scooting away for 70 metres following his intercept of a telegraphed inside pass from Beauden Barrett.
Alaimalo crossed after the Chiefs turned the ball over and attacked down the blindside with Shaun Stevenson brilliantly keeping the ball in play before he found the full-back inside him to give them a 21-0 half-time lead after Retallick's earlier try.
Goosen opened his side's account in the second half when he finished off following a strong run down the left touchline from Ben Lam, while Thomson got his side to 21-14 after an attacking scrum.
May crossed to reduce the gap further before Chiefs flanker Mitch Karpik ripped the ball off team-mate Liam Messam to give his team a 28-19 advantage with 10 minutes remaining.
Reds 48-27 Sunwolves
A red card controversy marred the Reds' win over the Sunwolves in Brisbane; the home side took advantage of a contentious sending-off to overrun Japan's Sunwolves 48-27 in their last game of the season.
Reds coach Brad Thorn slammed the red card shown to Ed Quirk in his side's win, labelling the alleged "closed fist" action as nothing more than a love tap.
Referee Ben O'Keeffe showed Quirk a red card in the 37th minute, which the referee deemed was "closed fist" action worthy of a red card, but former All Blacks forward Thorn vehemently disagreed with the referee's decision.
"For me, for a red card, it has to be something really big," Thorn said. "(Red cards) are for horrendous spear tackles, someone kicking someone on the ground, eye gouging horrendously or something - not love taps."
The contest was essentially over from the time of Quirk's dismissal with the Reds leading the Sunwolves 22-13 before powerhouse tighthead prop Taniela Tupou stretched out to score moments before half-time.
the Reds, in Thorn's first season in charge, ended the campaign with six wins and 10 losses to finish in fourth place in the Australian conference ahead of the Sunwolves, who won only three of their 16 games.