Hur­ri­canes’ dom­i­nance con­tin­ues against Blues

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

THE red-hot Welling­ton Hur­ri­canes recorded their ninth straight Su­per Rugby win with a bonus point 36-15 vic­tory over the Auck­land Blues at Eden Park yes­ter­day, ex­tend­ing the home side’s win­less streak against New Zealand op­po­si­tion to 16 matches.

Tries from hooker Ricky Ric­citelli, loose for­ward Gareth Evans, full­back Nehe Mil­ner-Skud­der lock Sam Lousi and cen­tre Matt Proc­tor were enough to see off a spir­ited Blues chal­lenge and send the Hur­ri­canes to the top of the stand­ings.

The Blues, who had tries from cen­tre Or­byn Leger and prop Ofa Tu­un­gafasi ei­ther side of half­time, played plenty of en­ter­pris­ing rugby but were un­able to match the dis­ci­pline or the ex­e­cu­tion of the Hur­ri­canes at key mo­ments.

The Hur­ri­canes lead the Can­ter­bury Cru­saders by three points in the New Zealand con­fer­ence hav­ing played a match fewer than the reign­ing cham­pi­ons, who would be ex­pected to re­turn to the top af­ter they host the New South Wales Waratahs to­day.

The 2016 cham­pi­ons had beaten the Blues in their last five meet­ings and laid down an early marker when they kicked a penalty to touch and Ric­citelli rum­bled over the line on the back of the en­su­ing rolling maul in the sixth minute.

The Blues tried to em­u­late their op­po­nents to get on the score­board but were un­able to get their catch-and-drive go­ing as ef­fi­ciently and Stephen Pero­feta slot­ted a penalty af­ter 14 min­utes in­stead.

The Blues hit the front 12 min­utes later when Sonny Bill Wil­liams, re­turn­ing af­ter six games out in­jured, broke the de­fen­sive line and lobbed the ball on the off­load to his cen­tre part­ner Leger, who scur­ried to the line to touch down.

The lead did not last long af­ter the half- hour mark be­fore Hur­ri­canes num­ber eight Evans caught the Blues nap­ping with a quickly taken penalty, giv­ing the visi­tors a 14-8 lead they held un­til eight min­utes into the sec­ond half.

Ref­eree Jaco Peyper was feel­ing un­well so was re­placed at the break but the Blues came out fir­ing with Tu­un­gafasi forc­ing his way over the line for a con­verted try that gave the hosts a 15-14 lead.

The re­sponse from the Hur­ri­canes was im­me­di­ate and scrumhalf TJ Per­e­nara, re­turn­ing off the bench af­ter in­jury, trig­gered a move which saw Mil­ner- Skud­der scurry over in the cor­ner.

Lousi scored from close range on the hour mark to take the lead to 28-15 and Bar­rett added a penalty be­fore Proc­tor sealed the bonus point with the try of the night from a cross-kick in the 78th minute. – Reuters

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