Wellington Hurricanes 40, Jaguares 22
Julian Savea bounced back from public humiliation over his lack of fitness with a hat-trick of tries as the Wellington Hurricanes downed the Jaguares of Argentina 40-22 in a Super Rugby clash in Wellington on Saturday.
In the first outing for the All Blacks star after being put on an intensive fitness regime two weeks ago he showed signs of his blockbusting best, breaking the game open with a touchdown double just on half-time.
He scored his third try in the 62nd minute to push the Hurricanes out to a 33-15 lead.
The Hurricanes outscored the Jaguares six tries to three, with the bonus-point try scored by replacement prop Ben May on full-time.
With four wins from six games, the Hurricanes lie fourth in the New Zealand conference while the Jaguares have now lost five of six and are third in the Africa 2 conference.
They did indicate they were capable of producing a boilover in the first half when they were winning the forward exchanges and led 12-7 after 31 minutes.
But Savea turned the tide with his first try, two minutes from the break when Beauden Barrett put Blade Thomson through a hole and the big lock threw a long pass to send the wing crashing over in the corner.
Savea scored again immediately from the restart when scrumhalf TJ Perenara broke around the blind side of a maul and kicked downfield with the ‘Canes wing outsprinting Jaguares speedster Matias Orlando in a 40-metre race to recover the ball and score.
Barrett, who finished with a match haul of 15 points, converted both tries from wide out for the Hurricanes to turn with a 21-12 lead.
Nicolas Sanchez narrowed the gap with a penalty 10 minutes into the second half before Dane Coles and Savea scored in quick succession.
Jaguares standout scrumhalf Martin Landajo kept the Jaguares in the hunt with a try in the 67th minute before they wilted to their heaviest defeat of the year with May’s late try.
The Hurricanes were first on the board when Barrett scored after Brad Shields secured a turnover ball and Ardie Savea mounted a counter-attack.
But when Ardie Savea was yellow-carded for collapsing a maul when the Jaguares were driving for the line, the South American side took advantage of the one-man edge with a try to Leonardo Senatore.
Matias Moroni scored the Jaguares’ second try to put them five points ahead before Savea revived the Hurricanes fortunes.
Waikato Chiefs 29, Auckland Blues 23
Canterbury Crusaders 20, Western Force 19
Western Stormers 46, Sunwolves 19
Queensland Reds 28, Otago Highlanders 27
The Waikato Chiefs, meanwhile, retained their place at the top of Super Rugby and their status as title favourites but faced their stiffest test of the season Friday before emerging with a 29-23 win over New Zealand rivals Auckland Blues.
The Hamilton-based Chiefs scored five tries to two but needed a 76th-minute try to All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick – returning from injury – to make the game safe and post their fifth consecutive win.
The Canterbury Crusaders also had to score late to beat Australia’s Western Force by a point, and South Africa’s Western Stormers breezed into a 27-0 lead on the way to a 46-19 win over competition newcomers Sunwolves of Japan in the day’s last game. The Sunwolves have lost all six of their games so far in their debut season.
Leading 10-6 at home after the first half, the Chiefs found themselves 20-10 down when the Auckland-based Blues scored two tries in four minutes, through Melani Nanai and Rieko Ioane.
In keeping with their form throughout the season, the Chiefs held their composure and reclaimed the lead with tries to flyhalf Aaron Cruden and centre Seta Temanivalu before Retallick made the game safe.
At Perth, loose forward Jordan Taufua scored a try with two minutes remaining and flyhalf Richie Mo’unga kicked the conversion to give the Crusaders a 20-19 win over the Western Force.
Replacement Ryan Louwrens had given the Force a 19-13 lead following a Crusaders turnover, helping the home side recover from a 13-6 deficit at half-time.
But Taufua barged over after sustained pressure from the Crusaders and Mo’unga slotted the conversion from nearly in front of the posts for the winning points.
Mitchell Drummond and Johnny McNicholl had scored first-half tries for the Crusaders, but the visitors played a mostly listless second half before Taufua’s late try.
“I don’t think it was a good performance, to be honest, but we’ll take the four points,” Crusaders captain Kieran Read said.
Attacking from deep at every opportunity, the Stormers scored four tries inside 25 minutes against what appeared to be an overawed Sunwolves team in Cape Town.
But the Sunwolves showed some grit – and ability – to hit back with tries either side of half-time to South African fullback Riaan Viljoen and scrumhalf Yuki Yatomi, who scored with a clever snipe around the fringes of a ruck. Viljoen got a second with 15 minutes to go.
But the Stormers scored seven tries in all, with two from flanker Sikhumbuzo Notshe, as the Sunwolves found it difficult without rested flyhalf and playmaker Tusi Pisi.
The Sunwolves had lock Timothy Bond sent off with 10 minutes to go for a shoulder charge to the head of Stormers fullback Cheslin Kolbe.
With the bonus-point win, the Stormers extended their lead at the top of the South African conference and temporarily moved second overall behind the Chiefs. The Sunwolves have the worst record of all the 18 teams.
Also on Saturday, at Brisbane, the Queensland Reds held on for their first win of the season, edging the Dunedin-based Otago Highlanders 28-27.
Liam Gill, Nick Frisby and Samu Kerevi scored first-half tries as the competition’s 17th-ranked team dominated a side that came into the match as second-best.
All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith scored the Highlanders’ first try on the hour mark and nine minutes later Malakai Fekitoa dived over for a five-pointer before Lima Sopoaga raced nearly 80 metres to cross in the corner and nailed his conversion to close the gap to a point.
But the Reds wound down the clock in the final minutes to snap the Highlanders’ five-game winning streak.
Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE
Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport