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WELLINGTON: Hurricanes Peter Lakai (2nd L) runs the ball during the Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and Chiefs at Sky Stadium in Wellington on April 13, 2024.—AFP
WELLINGTON: Hurricanes Peter Lakai (2nd L) runs the ball during the Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and Chiefs at Sky Stadium in Wellington on April 13, 2024.—AFP

Perenara equals rugby record as Hurricanes win

WELLINGTON: Scrum-half TJ Perenara moved level as the most prolific try-scorer in Super Rugby history as his competition-leading Wellington Hurricanes beat the Waikato Chiefs 36-23 on Saturday. The Hurricanes maintained their perfect seven-from-seven start to the season, out-scoring the visitors five tries to two in Wellington, including a brace to veteran All Black Perenara. The 32-year-old crossed once in each half to take his Super Rugby career tally to 62 tries. It is the same figure as his former Hurricanes team-mate Julian Savea, who scored a try on Friday for the victorious Moana Pasifika against the Queensland Reds.

A bonus point win pushed the Hurricanes five points clear of the second-placed Auckland Blues and ACT Brumbies as they continued the high-speed style that has created 38 tries. Wet conditions didn’t slow them, going 10-0 up in the first quarter after Perenara bagged his opening try. Impressive loose forward Brayden Iose crossed to put his team 17-7 ahead but the Chiefs dominated the middle section of the game, scoring 16 unanswered points. With his team trailing by six, Perenara’s second try sparked a storming Hurricanes finish, including five-pointers to winger Kini Naholo and powerhouse hooker Asafo Aumua.

Hurricanes captain Brad Shields said his team’s depth swung the contest their way over the closing stages. “It’s not often you can roll a bench on that changes a game like that,” he said. “Each week now, our impact players are taking our game to another level.”

Backs Cortez Ratima and Emoni Narawa crossed for the Chiefs while fly-half Damian McKenzie landed 13 points with the boot. Last year’s beaten finalists suffered their third loss from eight games and skipper Luke Jacobson said they gave the competition leaders too many opportunities.

“The Hurricanes played some really good footy and put a lot of pressure on us,” he said. “There were a few errors in our own half that they ended up scoring from. In the end, that really hurt us.”

In Melbourne, the Rebels banked only their second win against New Zealand opposition in 17 matches, and their first in two years, when they beat the Otago Highlanders 47-31. Young winger Darby Lancaster starred with a hat-trick.

Kevin Foote’s side went to the break with a 26-10 advantage and kept their composure in the second half to secure a bonus point victory that propelled them up to fourth on the ladder behind the Brumbies.

“Really happy with the guys and really happy to get that win,” said Rebels captain Sam Talakai, who pointed to their fast start with a try in the second minute as giving them momentum. “We’ve been speaking about it (making a fast start) for a while now and it really helped us tonight.” – AFP

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