‘Canes put 74 points on Crusaders

Date published: February 19 2016

The Hurricanes made up for their two Super Rugby pre-season defeats when they trounced the Crusaders 74-7 in their third and final friendly on Friday.

The Wellington side's star-studded line-up scored eleven tries and dominated the seven-time champions from the kick-off, who felt the abscence of All Blacks Kieran Read, Israel Dagg, Ryan Crotty and Luke Romano.

The Hurricanes' manhandling was less noticeable at the set-pieces, where Owen Franks, Ben Funnell and Wyatt Crockett dominated, but it made no difference as further out the Hurricanes scrum-half and fly-half combination of TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett pulled all the right strings to set loose a destructive backline.

Chris Boyd's troops dotted down five tries in the first-half and seven in the second 40 as Perenara, Ardie Savea, Barrett, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Willis Halaholo, Blade Thomson and Jason Woodward all crossed the whitewash, with Cory Jane and Victor Vito scoring doubles.

The Crusaders, who scored only one five-pointer through Johnny McNicholl, will have to reboot before they open their season against the Chiefs on Saturday, February 27, while the Hurricanes head to Canberra to start the season proper on Friday against the Brumbies.

"Pre-season is a funny thing," Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd told Stuff.co.nz

"I know how the Crusaders are feeling.

"We felt the same last week after we got a towelling from the Blues.

"We were pretty desperate, we had lost our first two preseason games and we needed to prove a little bit to ourselves and get some momentum going – and we did that.

"We got the basics right today, we laid a really good foundation and let the game flow. We never got that foundation last week. It was pleasing."

Crusaders' coach Todd Blackadder presented a composed recall of the encounter, and believes his charges will improve and do better in their first match of the competition against the Chiefs.

"We just got outplayed today," Blackadder said.

"I never saw that coming … we had a good week's preparation, we were up for the challenge.

"I don't think I have ever seen us play so poorly.

"There wasn't any facets of the game where we were really good today.

"We got shown a master class in rugby by the Hurricanes.

"I've got real belief in this team.

"We are a better team than what we showed here…we have to use this to really galvanise us, have to play tough and a lot harder than we did today."

Meanwhile, the Highlanders wrapped up their pre-season with a tighter 40-35 victory over the Waratahs in Queenstown.

The hosts ran in five tries with Malakai Fekititoa scoring three and Ben Smith crossing the try-line twice, and the visitors answered with five tries of their own when Michael Hooper, Jed Holloway, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Bryce Hegarty and Zac Guildford got the scoreboard moving.

The Highlanders sealed the victory with a late Hayden Parker penalty with three minutes left to secure a 40-35 win.

"There were some good things and bad things, when the team came under pressure they found a new level of intensity and resilience," Highlanders head coach Jamie Joseph said.

"It was a tight game and for us to get through and get the win was a good thing.

"I think this was a step up from the last couple of games we have had.

"There would be a dozen Wallabies in that Waratahs team."

Joseph is excited about his side's Super Rugby opener against the Blues.

"We are looking forward to next week, it is going to be a big step up, the Blues have won their last three games and so they are clearly a different team and that is a challenge for us," he added.

The other pre-season encounter between the Blues and the Chiefs in Pukekohe ended in a 14-man 24-12 win for the Auckland side.

Charlie Ngatai and Seta Tamanivalu scored for the Chiefs while Patrick Tuipulotu, Bryn Hall, Lolagi Visinia and Matt Duffie crossed for the Blues.

The Chiefs led 12-10 early on and the Blues struggled to convert their territory and possession to points, but Tana Umaga's men regrouped after half-time when Hall scored the Blues' first try. However, the Blues' momentum was hindered when they were reduced to 14 when Jerome Kaino landed an unintentional to Pauliasi Manu that saw him being red carded.

The Blues face defending champions the Highlanders next Friday at Eden Park.