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03 May 2008 11:39
The Hurricanes continued their strong finish to the Super 14 season when they thrashed the Johannesburg-based Lions 38-12 in Wellington on Saturday.
Leading 26-7 at halftime, the Hurricanes scored five tries to their opponents two to overwhelm the disappointing Lions.
The win moved Wellington into the Super 14 top four, while the Lions are virtually assured of finishing with the wooden spoon after five successive losses on their Australia and New Zealand tour.
The Hurricanes dominated all facets of play and the win was never in doubt once they raced to a 16-0 lead inside the first 15 minutes.
They drew first blood after just three minutes when impressive young flyhalf Willie Ripia kicked a penalty after the Lions backs were caught off-side.
Ripia kicked another penalty five minutes later to put the Hurricanes 6-0 up and had a hand in the home side’s first try when he stabbed a kick ahead for winger Zac Guildford to gather and score under the posts.
Another Ripia penalty made it 16-0 after just 15 minutes and indicated a long night ahead for the young Lions team.
It got even worse for the visitors when fullback Earl Rose threw a risky pass to number eight Joe van Niekerk on his own try-line, only for Wellington hooker Andrew Hore to arrive at the same time and rip it away from Van Niekerk to score.
The Lions struck back with a steamrolling try by hooker Willie Wepener to close the gap to 21-7, but the Hurricanes, who were attacking from everywhere, got their third try five minutes before halftime with a long-range effort from centre Ma’a Nonu, sparked by a delightful Ripia chip.
The Lions earned hope when they were first to score in the second half with winger Jannie Boshoff crashing over after a good break by tireless scrumhalf Jano Vermaak.
But the Hurricanes put the issue beyond doubt when Nonu crashed over from the back of a ruck to grab his second and give his team a four-try bonus point.
Flanker Scott Waldrom then scored under the posts following a good break from his brother Thomas to make it 38-12 and underline the difference between the teams.
Hurricanes captain Rodney So’oialo said the decision to spend an extra day in South Africa before heading back to New Zealand had paid dividends.
“We had a good rest, and the recovery went really well,” So’oialo said. “We had an extra day in South Africa and obviously that really helped out tonight.” - Reuters
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