Ngani Laumape scored four tries to help the Hurricanes claim a 42-24 bonus-point win over the Blues in Wellington on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Hurricanes remain on course for a home quarter-final. The big win at the Cake Tin sees them consolidating their position at fourth place in the overall standings.
The game was played at a lively pace, with both teams looking to counterattack after making a turnover. That said, the Hurricanes were particularly potent after setting a good platform at the scrums and lineouts.
Laumape showed terrific strength in the build up to his first two tries. Julian Savea was rewarded for his excellent support play, and by half-time, the Hurricanes were out to a 21-10 lead.
Rieko Ioane scored either side of the break to keep the Blues in the contest. Akira Ioane powered over the line from close range in the 66th minute, and Stephen Perofeta added the extras to leave the Blues trailing by six points.
Another two pieces of Laumape brilliance put the result beyond doubt. The powerful No 12 scored two more tries, one from close range and the other after taking a neat pass from Beauden Barrett and running 40-odd metres.
The latter try ensured that the Hurricanes claimed the try-scoring bonus point.
Hurricanes – Tries: Julian Savea, Ngani Laumape (4), Beauden Barrett. Conversions: Jordie Barrett (6).
Blues – Tries: Rieko Ioane (2), Akira Ioane. Conversions: Stephen Perofeta (3). Penalty: Perofeta.
Hurricanes – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Wes Goosen, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Sam Henwood, 6 Brad Shields (c), 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Ben May, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Fraser Armstrong, 18 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 19 Michael Fatialofa, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Ben Lam.
Blues – 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Rieko Ioane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Augustine Pulu (c), 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Matiaha Martin, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Matt Moulds, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Subs: 16 James Parsons, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Ben Nee-Nee, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 TJ Faiane.
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images