Hurricanes blow away Melbourne Rebels 45-22 in an entertaining Super Rugby Pacific clash at Sky Stadium, Wellington.
The Hurricanes ran in seven tries as they blew away an overmatched Melbourne Rebels to keep alive their slim home playoff hopes.
Julian Savea, Billy Proctor, Blake Gibson, James Blackwell, Siua Malie, Jordie Barrett, and Aidan Morgan all scored for the home team.
Barrett added five conversions and an assist to his try for 15 points after another excellent day in the midfield.
The mercurial 25-year-old playmaker’s solid defending saw him make 10 tackles as well, the most by any back.
TJ Perenara, who cajoled his team with conviction, went close a couple of times, but he did get two assists from halfback.
Lukas Ripley came off the bench to register a stunning hat-trick for the Rebels.
Ripley scored all his side’s tries. The 20-year-old ran for 164 metres with 11 runs, with three clean breaks, while making eight tackles.
Matt To’omua kicked one penalty and two conversions (7 pts) to go with his two assists.
The Australians have now lost their last nine Super Rugby games against New Zealand teams, and are out of the race for the playoffs.
The Hurricanes continue their good form against the Rebels with a ninth Super Rugby win in a row.
This comfortable win increases the Wellington side’s winning streak at home against Aussie opposition to 14 going back to 2015.
This win assures the Kiwis of a playoff berth, but not a home quarter-final after the Chiefs hammered the Western Force in another Trans-Tasman mismatch in Hamilton.
A formidable Hurricanes set-piece laid the platform as the backs dazzled the mismatched Melbourne Rebels
The Rebels came into this Trans-Tasman clash with a tackle success rate of 71%, which is the lowest of any team in the competition, and it showed.
Although the visitors increased their tackle success rate to 84% in the opening half, the hosts sliced them open with ease.
By the end of the clash, the australians had shipped 38 tackles from 202 attempts (81%), which is not good enough.
Kevin Foote’s forwards lost five lineouts from 20, while Jason Holland’s forwards won all 16 lineouts.
In fact, the Wellington side’s lineout is a weapon. Before the game, they had the third-best scoring rate off lineouts, and this continued.
Foote’s side fell off 14 tackles as Holland’s men took a commanding 26-8 halftime lead.
The Canes scored four tries to one to take an 18-point advantage into the shed.
All four tries came from lineouts; three from the top for the backs to mesmerise, and one from a rolling maul.
Savea, Proctor, Gibson, and Blackwell all dotted down in the first stanza.
To’omua, at inside centre, kicked an early penalty, and Ripley, on for the injured Reece Hodge, scored his maiden Super Rugby try.
The Hurricanes’ backline ran riot at the Cake Tin despite five late changes due to flu
Preparations for the game were not ideal for Holland’s side as an outbreak of flu struck down several players.
Assistant coach Corey Jane revealed on the sideline in-game interview that the Canes had only a day of training because of the flu outbreak in the squad.
Dane Coles, Asafo Aumua, Salesi Rayasi, Wes Goosen and Jamie Booth (all illness) were late scratchings.
James O’Reilly started at hooker, with Siua Maile on the bench. Josh Moorby began on the wing with Cameron Roigard and Peter Umaga-Jensen added to the replacements.
Savea opened the scoring in the second minute, strolling in after a slick backline move from the top of the lineout.
A wonderful sweeping backline move finished with ‘The Bus’ scoring his 57th Super Rugby try.
Savea is now one try behind team-mate Perenara on the Hurricanes’ all-time list, and three behind Israel Folau (60).
To’omua put his side on the board with a penalty. But another wonderful backline move off the back of a lineout ended in five.
The Canes’ decoy runners opened up a gap for Proctor to take Perenara’s weighted pass and ghost through a big hole to score under the sticks.
Barrett converted to make it 12-3 after 11 minutes.
Gibson flopped over the chalk after a powerful rolling maul by his fellow forwards. Barrett again added the conversion.
Three minutes later, the Rebels fought back with a score of their own.
To’omua drew his man and sent Ripley away for his maiden Super Rugby try after some sustained pressure inside the Hurricanes’ 22 by the Rebels.
Perenara went close but lost the ball near the line; however, the Canes struck soon after.
Yet another try came from a deft lineout move involving backs and forwards.
Perenara and Barrett combined with some slick passing to put Blackwell in for the fourth score of the night. Barrett converted.
Both teams squandered chances before the interval.
The Hurricanes blew away the resilient Rebels after Melbourne fought back
Maile, Barrett, and Morgan crossed after the break, but the hosts were not as dominant as the previous half.
Melbourne struck first after a good start.
Ripley was away for his second try of the night after a blistering attack kept the Rebels in the hunt.
To’omua converted to make it 25-15. It was not enough despite a slow start to the second half by the Kiwis.
The Victorians could take their chances, and the Kiwis soon found the whitewash.
Holland’s men became complacent, making too many errors, and their set-piece began to falter.
But they did find their mojo before the hour after repelling the resurgent Rebels.
A quick tap penalty from Perenara saw new boy Maile crash over from close range for his maiden Super Rugby try.
An 11-phase attack culminated with Moorby being tackled into touch with a magnificent hit by prop Cameron Orr.
Barrett, at pace, took Perenara’s flat pass and spun out of two tackles to score and convert next to the poles.
Like a thief in the night, Morgan scooped up a bouncing ball after Ripley lost possession in a tackle.
The 20-year-old flyhalf raced away from the reeling defenders to increase the gap to 30 points.
Ripley, however, compleated his treble when he latched on to To’omua’s grubber behind the yellow wall to cap a glorious day at the Cake Tin.
Final Score: Hurricanes 45 (26) Rebels 22 (8)
Tries – J. Savea, Proctor, Gibson, Blackwell, Maile, J. Barrett, Morgan
Con – J. Barrett (5)
Tries – Ripley (3)
Pen – To’omua
Con – To’omua (2)
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 1: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 2: Mike Winter
TMO: Richard Kelly
Hurricanes: 15 Ruben Love, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Josh Moorby, 10 Aidan Morgan, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 TK Howden, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Blake Gibson, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 James O’Reilly, 1 Tevita Mafileo.
Replacements: 16 Siua Malie, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Caleb Delany, 21 Cameron Roigard, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Peter Umaga-Jensen
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 George Worth, 13 Andrew Kellaway, 12 Matt To’omua, 11 Glen Vaihu, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Tamati Ioane, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Michael Wells (captain), 5 Rob Leota, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Pone Fa’amausili, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Cabous Eloff, 19 Josh Canham, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Lukas Ripley, 23 Nick Jooste.