Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Rugby: Rampant Hurricanes thrash Chiefs

TJ Perenara of the Hurricanes is tackled by Michael Fitzgerald of the Chiefs during the round 15 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images.
TJ Perenara of the Hurricanes is tackled by Michael Fitzgerald of the Chiefs during the round 15 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images.

Hurricanes 45
Chiefs 8

Few teams can light up a dreary autumn night like the Hurricanes.

As cold winds swept through Westpac Stadium in Wellington last night, Mark Hammett's side showed little regard for the conditions as they destroyed the Chiefs 45-8.

Nearly every aspect of the result was a surprise. Few would have predicted such a scoreline but the Hurricanes' clinical dissection of a much-vaunted Chiefs' defence was pretty to watch.

First Take: Chiefs chewed up and spat out

The result ensured the Hurricanes moved in to the top six, while the loss was damaging for the Chiefs, who are still in contention for the finals but were given a swift reminder that people are determined to knock the defending champions off their perch.

While the tries flowed from the Hurricanes, their coaching staff would have been equally happy with the fact they were able to hold the Chiefs to only eight points as the visitors were kept scoreless in the second spell.

Limiting an opponent's tally has long been an issue for the Hurricanes and Hammett has been determined to change that during his time in charge.

"We don't have to have the best defence in the competition but it had to be better from where we were," Hammett said.

"At the beginning of the year it was a real focus area."

After they were pipped by the Highlanders last week, the Hurricanes knew a loss last night would have likely spelled the end of their campaign with three more New Zealand sides on offer for their remaining games.

"It almost felt during the week that it wouldn't be right if we'd lost and slipped up again and our season was over, it just wasn't worth thinking about," Hurricanes skipper Conrad Smith said.

"We'd worked too hard as a group to spend the last three games of this comp playing for nothing."

Smith's impassioned words were reflected in the way the side played during last night's six-try rout.

"Oh gee, we got pumped didn't we?," Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said. "They were outstanding. They played like a side that was pretty desperate and I guess their season was riding on the performance and we were a distant third."

The Chiefs made things tough on themselves as they continually turned the ball over, which is a sin against a dangerous team like the Hurricanes.

Rennie's side again struggled to get their lineout functioning while the Hurricanes were clinical at the set-piece, which is an area of the game they feel they have an edge.

"We just coughed up possession too easily," Rennie said. "Certainly our defence in those circumstances has been really strong historically but we just gave up too many soft points."

Pivot Aaron Cruden clocked in with 30 minutes for the Chiefs as he returned from a thumb injury, which would have been pleasing for the All Blacks selectors with England arriving next month.

Cruden was largely forced to watch though as his side tried to stem the flow as they leaked more tries.

Julian Savea continued his bumper season as he bagged a double for the Hurricanes, while first-five Beauden Barrett kicked his goals from all angles for a healthy 15-point haul.

The only sour note for the Hurricanes was a suspected broken ankle for fullback Andre Taylor, while prop Ben Franks left the field in the second spell with a groin problem but he was expected to be monitored during the next 48 hours.

Hurricanes 45 (Julian Savea 2, Andre Taylor, Ben Franks, Jack Lam, Brad Shields tries; Beauden Barrett pen, 6 con) Chiefs 8 (Liam Squire try; Gareth Anscombe pen) halftime: 21-8


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