Super Rugby
Hurricanes thump Highlanders to lock up top spot
June 5, 2015
Report Match details
Date/Time: Jun 5, 2015, 19:35 local, 07:35 GMT
Venue: McLean Park, Napier
Hurricanes 56 - 20 Highlanders
Half-time: 30 - 13
Tries: Coles, Marshall, Nonu 2, Perenara 2, SJ Savea, Thomson
Cons: Marshall 5
Pens: Marshall 2
Tries: Banks, Sopoaga, Tongia
Cons: Sopoaga
Drops: Sopoaga
The Highlanders' Waisake Naholo (L) and Hurricanes' Julian Savea pursue a bouncing ball, Napier, June 5, 2015
The Highlanders' Waisake Naholo (L) and Hurricanes' Julian Savea pursue a bouncing ball
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The Hurricanes wrapped up home advantage for the Super Rugby playoffs with a thumping 56-20 eight-try win over the Highlanders at McLean Park in Napier on Friday.

The Hurricanes scored four tries in each half, underlining their spot at the top of the New Zealand conference and the overall table, with just one game remaining next week against the Chiefs in New Plymouth. Playing in black armbands for one-time teammate Jerry Collins, following the former All Black's death in a car crash in France, the Hurricanes played with a heady mixture of aggression, patience and blistering speed.

The Highlanders, resting their three All Blacks Ben Smith, Aaron Smith and Malakai Fekitoa, struggled for fluency on attack and lacked organisation on defence.

Hurricanes 56-20 Highlanders (Australia only)

Both teams struggled for ball security early on, the Hurricanes edging ahead 6-3 with two James Marshall penalties to Lima Sopoaga's drop-goal. But three tries within 10 minutes catapulted the Hurricanes into the lead after an error-ridden opening spell.

An electric run down the right from the elusive Nehe Milner-Skudder, playing on the wing instead of his more accustomed fullback's role, set up the first try for lock Blade Thomson after 15 minutes. Four minutes later, Marshall slipped a tackle out wide, then cut back in to run 40 metres for a superb individual try. A sniff of the try-line from close range was all halfback TJ Perenara needed five minutes later as the Hurricanes' picked up their third to lead 23-3 after 25 minutes.

Replacement wing Ryan Tongia featured for the Highlanders soon after, scoring their first try and setting up Sopoaga for the second to narrow the Hurricanes lead to 23-13 after 30 minutes. But hooker Dane Coles touched down in the corner for the bonus-point try five minutes before half-time to give the Hurricanes a 30-13 lead at the break.

It took All Blacks winger Julian Savea barely a minute to extend the lead after the restart, finishing off another Milner-Skudder break, although the Highlanders hit back three minutes later through fullback Marty Banks. From then on, however, the Hurricanes dominated, Perenara collecting his second try of the game to make it 10 for the season while Ma'a Nonu also landed a brace from the bench.

© AAP

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