7 Aug 2016

Dogged defence lifts Hurricanes to title

12:19 am on 7 August 2016

The Hurricanes captain Dane Coles played through the pain to lead his side to their maiden Super Rugby title and he said it's an honour to have been able to do so.

Hurricanes captain Dane Coles with the Super Rugby trophy following the win over the Lions in Wellington.

Hurricanes captain Dane Coles with the Super Rugby trophy following the win over the Lions in Wellington. Photo: PhotoSport

The Hurricanes, beaten finalists twice before, outclassed South Africa's Lions 20-3 in the final in Wellington to claim their first championship in 20 years of trying.

First-five Beauden Barrett sealed the win, diving on a loose ball with a little over 11 minutes to cap a masterful performance.

He was later named man of the match.

His opposite number, Elton Jantjies battled as best he could but did not have as great an impact as expected.

All told, the Hurricanes' defence proved the difference, holding the tournament's best attacking team to a miserly penalty.

Barrett also added 10 points with his boot, for a personal haul of 15 points.

Hurricanes winger Cory Jane scored a try in the first half as the home side sealed the title in front of a delirious sell-out crowd of 34,973 in icy and gusting southerly winds and at times horizontal rain.

The Wellington-based club provided a stunning response to losing last year's final to the Highlanders and two of their most influential players, Ma'a Nonu and captain Conrad Smith.

Defence was again key to the Hurricanes success, they kept the Lions tryless, as they did the Sharks in the quarter-finals and the Chiefs in the semis.

Injury doubt Dane Coles played for more than 40 minutes in the wet weather and biting cold and even had to come back on when his replacement Ricky Riccitelli was sent to the blood bin.

The Hurricanes clinch Super Rugby glory.

The Hurricanes clinch Super Rugby glory. Photo: Photosport

An emotional Coles said it's a dream come true to help the Hurricanes break their Super Rugby drought.

"To finally bring a championship to the Hurricanes franchise, mate it's just yeah, just awesome. Just so proud of the group not just the players that played but management and the guys that didn't strip tonight," Coles said.

"As you can hear in there (the Hurricanes changing room) it means a lot to this group to be able to get one (Super Rugby title) for all those who went before them and came so close only to fall short.

"It's great to bring this (Super Rugby trophy) to this franchise for the first time."