27 May 2012

Canes thump the Rebels

9:54 am on 27 May 2012

The Hurricanes have thrashed the Melbourne Rebels by a franchise-record 66-24 in their Super Rugby clash in Wellington to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The Hurricanes were deadly on turnover ball, scoring five tries to two before half-time when they led 38-17 and the hosts ran in four more tries, with left wing Julian Savea bagging a hat-trick.

Both team's goalkickers were 100 percent accurate.

The Auckland-born wing Cooper Vuna opened the scoring early on for the Rebels and the try was converted by Kurtley Beale.

Beauden Barrett traded penalties with his opposite Beale, before Andre Taylor finished off a nice burst by halfback TJ Perenara to put the Hurricanes level at 10-10 once Barrett converted the difficult sideline conversion.

Alapati Leua showed good handling to score the Hurricanes' second as the floodgates opened, opposite wing Savea finishing on the left after a scrum turnover.

Savea did it again shortly afterwards as the hosts banked the four-try bonus point before the half-hour mark.

Vuna notched a double with an intercept to make the score a little closer but flanker Jack Lam scored a fifth Hurricanes try just before half-time and Leua notched his second to put the result beyond doubt.

Not to outdone, Savea scored his hat-trick off an Andre Taylor pass before Taylor scored his own try and the Hurricanes' eighth to make it 58-17 with more than 20 minutes remaining.

Replacement halfback Chris Eaton bagged a ninth for the hosts from a five-metre scrum while the Rebels finally scored again right at the death through hooker Adam Freier.

To cap the misery for Melbourne, star five-eighth Kurtley Beale left the field early in the second half and was taken to hospital for scans on a shoulder injury.

Key backs Mark Gerrard and Lachlan Mitchell were also injured in the second half in ferocious tackles by reserve Hurricanes hooker Motu Matu'u.

Mitchell, knocked out and stretchered from the field, also went to hospital for scans on his neck while Gerrard suffered a sternum injury.

The Rebels had hoped to secure their first victory outside Australia and their first haul of three successive wins but any claims on those records were left in tatters.

It was the biggest winning margin and highest score ever by the Hurricanes and most points conceded by the Rebels, eclipsing last season's 53-3 loss to the Reds.