Hurricanes run rampant in cool Wellington

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Lynn McConnell     20 May 2017     Getty Images

It was a night of self-expression for the home team, none more than captain and halfback TJ Perenara and the midfield duo of second five-eighths Ngane Laumape and centre Vince Aso, who finished the game with 24 tries over the season between them.

Perenara's quick-thinking gave his side initial momentum while Laumape's gap creation opened up the chance for Aso to score a hat-trick, his second of the season, and in the process surpass Tana Umaga's season scoring record of 12 tries set in 1997.

The win was the side's biggest over the Cheetahs, the winning margin of 54 points surpassing the 33 in Wellington set in 2014.

Earlier, fullback Beauden Barrett eased concerns about his lack of goal-kicking this season by landing five conversion attempts from five and to equal Andrew Mehrtens on 990 points and fourth place on the all-time Super Rugby ladder.

Perenara's first contribution to the try-scoring action came in the 16th minute when he charged an attempted 22m restart by the Cheetahs. While they recovered the ball they went into frenetic mode in trying to clear the ball and when wing Raymond Rhule attempted an overhead pass, Fifita soared to intercept it and as it dropped behind him, he recovered the ball and charged over for the try.

Three minutes later, Perenara raced over the sideline to secure the ball from Rhule who had been forced over the line. He threw it quickly to prop Ben May, who took the ball ahead to set up a ruck and quick hands through the backs provided centre Vince Aso with the opening for his 11th try of the season.

However, indiscipline when May blocked Zeilinga as he tried to chase through on a kick ahead provided the chance to set up a lineout drive and it was Zeilinga who stepped his way through between No.8 Brad Shields and second five-eighths Ngane Laumape for a good try in the 24th minute. Converting his own try brought up his 100 points for the season.

Plenty of movement of the ball from the Hurricanes was largely east-west with the Cheetahs defence minimising the odd attempt to break north by the mid-field. It took some lineout drives to provide the impetus for the home side and just before the half-time break, hooker Ricky Riccitelli provided some extra fizz and leg drive to carry play to the line. From the ruck it was flanker Ardie Savea who was driven over through a mass of bodies for the third try.

As the Hurricanes built on the 80 percent territory in the second half hooker Elandre Huggett was sin-binned after a general warning had been issued to the Cheetahs in maul situations. That resulted in Perenara getting a chance in the maul to score out wide.

Then, from the restart, the Hurricanes ran the ball from their own goal-line and Laumape pushed off flanker Uzair Cassiem's attempted tackle and raced into space with Aso with even more room outside him and he made no mistake.

A five-metre scrum after Ardie Savea was held up over the line saw Shields and Reed Prinseep have drives at the line before prop Jeffery Toomaga-Allen score.

There was time for another two-step from Laumape, who this time beat off Zeilinga's tackle attempt and chipped ahead where Aso got the perfect bounce to set up his hat-trick

Scorers: Hurricanes 61 (Vaea Fifita, Vince Aso 3, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Ben Lam, Leni Apisai tries; Beauden Barrett 5 con; Otere Black 3 con) Cheetahs 7 (Fred Zeilinga tries; Zeilinga con). HT: 21-7