Rugby: Hurricanes thrash Lions

Hurricanes flanker Callum Gibbins congratulates Julian Savea after scoring against the Lions. Photo / Getty
Hurricanes flanker Callum Gibbins congratulates Julian Savea after scoring against the Lions. Photo / Getty

A magnificent first half performance by the Hurricanes set up a 50-17 rout of the Lions this morning in Johannesburg.

The New Zealanders scored five tries before half-time to turn 36-5 ahead and after a spell of second half dominance by the South Africans, the visitors finished strongly.

Hurricanes succeeded on an Ellis Park stadium pitch that cut up badly in places, forcing ground staff to intervene during the match and make temporary repairs.

It was the Hurricanes' second biggest win of the season after a 35-point drubbing of Australian side the Western Force and the Lions' heaviest defeat.

Winning with a bonus point thanks to a 7-3 try count, the Hurricanes stayed third in the New Zealand conference and on course for a quarter-finals place.

Despite being overwhelmed, the Lions stayed top of the Africa 2 standings, five points above fellow South African side, the Sharks.

Hurricanes' dominated the breakdowns and scrums during the first half and were helped by two gift tries after Lions' passes were intercepted.

Former Springboks TV analysts were unanimous in their praise of the Hurricanes, who have won six of seven matches since a two-loss start to the season.

"It was an absolutely clinical performance by the Hurricanes and the Lions faced an impossible task after turning over 31 points behind," said 1995 Rugby World Cup-winning fly-half Joel Stransky.

"Lions problems began at the first scrum and continued at the breakdowns. It was a very poor showing by them," said Naas Botha, another former South Africa playmaker.

Former Springboks coach Nick Mallett said: "The Lions were played off the park with the breakdown a key area of dominance for the Hurricanes."

Wingers Cory Jane and Julian Savea scored two tries each and centres Matt Proctor and Vince Aso and prop Reg Goodes one for the 2015 Super Rugby runners-up.

Fly-half Beauden Barrett bounced back from his poor night with the boot against the Chiefs, giving a near flawless goal kicking exhibition, slotting six conversions and a penalty from eight attempts.

Hooker Armand 'Akker' van der Merwe, centre Lionel Mapoe and flanker Jaco Kriel scored a try each for the Lions and fly-half Elton Jantjies slotted one conversion.

Jantjies, favourite to be the South Africa playmaker in a three-Test home series against Ireland during June, was below par and retired injured on 55 minutes.

After early Lions' pressure, the floodgates opened on 11 minutes when superb handling between backs and forward sent Savea over and Barrett converted.

Proctor intercepted a careless pass from Lions skipper and No. 8 Warren Whiteley to dot down unopposed and Barrett added the extra points again.

A Jane try was converted by Barrett, who also kicked a penalty for a 24-0 lead after 27 minutes.

Van der Merwe scored a try off a driving maul for the Lions only for the Wellington outfit to cross the try-line twice more before half-time via Jane and Goodes with Barrett converting the first.

Mapoe and Kriel tries narrowed the gap to 36-17 before the Hurricanes stamped their authority again and Aso and Savea scored converted tries.

Hurricanes 50 (J. Savea 2, C. Jane 2, M. Proctor, R. Goodes, V. Aso tries, B.Barrett 6 con, 1 pen)
Lions 17 (A. Van der Merwe, L.Mapoe, J.Kriel tries, E.Jantjies con)

Hurricanes v Lions - Match centre

- NZ Herald

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