The half-empty stadium on Wellington’s waterfront, for a clash which has traditionally been one of the highlights of the Super Rugby season, said more about the public interest the much-maligned Blues are generating than any real lack of passion from the Hurricanes’ fans.
And the Blues didn’t do anything to dispel their mediocre reputation, failing to spark any real charge towards the winner’s post. While they kept in contact with the home side in the first spell, they never really looked like creating anything of real quality, and seemed to have pinned all their hopes on individual moments of brilliance from their few remaining marquee players.
While the boot of Peri Weepu kept the visitors in contention in the opening spell, it was the Hurricanes who looked more cohesive and dangerous, with Andre Taylor and ever-green captain Conrad Smith scoring first half tries.
Ahead 16-12 at the break the Hurricanes quickly added another from the determined Julian Savea, before outstanding halfback TJ Perenara secured a bonus point for the Wellington-based franchise.
The Blues’ season was perhaps summed up in one final moment at the end of the game, when a dreadfully wayward pass from fullback Hadleigh Parkes was seized by Jason Eaton, who cantered over for the Canes’ fifth try of the night. If anything, the 35-19 score line flattered the Blues, while the Hurricanes gave them a lesson in how to combine x-factor and flair with experience and precision.