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Hurricanes overwhelm hapless Chiefs

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Update: 10:00PM The Hurricanes eased back up the condensed New Zealand Super Rugby conference table with an outstanding six-try 45-8 win over the Chiefs in Wellington on Saturday.

They now sit third, a scant point behind the leading Crusaders and equal with the second-placed Highlanders, who have a game in hand.

The Hurricanes were particularly lethal on the counterattack, pouncing on turnovers and launching from deep inside their own half to take a 21-8 lead into halftime.

Playing into a swirling Wellington northerly gale, the Hurricanes drew first blood after four minutes when five-eighth Beauden Barrett made a half-break 60 metres out.

He unloaded to a barnstorming Julian Savea who broke clear down the middle and found fullback Andre Taylor on his shoulder to finish.

Replacement flanker Liam Squire, on while Sam Cane was in the blood bin, made the most of his chances in powering over after 15 minutes after the Chiefs showed impressive patience in building phases before spinning it wide.

Prop Ben Franks picked up a rare try out wide soon after, the forwards finishing off a sweeping move downfield as the Hurricanes' pace and passing split open the Chiefs defence down the middle.

Inside centre Alapati Leiua set up the Hurricanes' third, ghosting through and offloading for Savea to outpace the cover defence and score.

Ahead 21-8 at the break, injury hit the Hurricanes early after the restart.

Taylor was stretchered off with a nasty-looking ankle injury, and Franks disappeared after the recurrence of a niggling groin problem.

But the home team lost little, and Savea crossed for his second and the bonus point try after 50 minutes.

All Blacks playmaker Aaron Cruden negotiated his return to Super Rugby after six weeks off with a broken thumb, playing the last 30 minutes, but was unable to ignite a lacklustre Chiefs backline.

Both teams lost players in the last quarter to yellow cards, the Hurricanes without Reggie Goodes and the Chiefs missing Brodie Retallick.

But the Hurricanes kept running in the tries, Jack Lam and Victor Vito both crossing in the last 20 minutes to underline the most emphatic of wins.

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