Hat-trick hero Vince Aso broke Tana Umaga’s try-scoring record as the Hurricanes claimed a 61-7 victory over the Cheetahs in Wellington on Saturday.
A win for the Hurricanes means they leapfrog the second-placed Chiefs on the New Zealand Conference and bounced back from what would have been a disappointing loss to the Crusaders last weekend.
A hat-trick from Aso, breaking Umaga’s single-season try-scoring record of 12 for the Hurricanes, and tries from Vaea Fifita, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Ben Lam and Leni Apisai consigned the Cheetahs to a humbling defeat.
The away side scored through a sole Fred Zeilinga try.
The Cheetahs did well in the first-half with good line speed on defence and managed to shut down the Hurricanes’ options out wide for the most part.
However, they made elementary errors and were guilty of shooting themselves in the foot as they gifted the Hurricanes easy tries.
And in the second half the floodgates well and truly opened as the Cheetahs were exposed for missing too many tackles. Also, the potent combination of centres Ngani Laumape and Aso was too much for the Free State side. Laumape and Aso are the competition’s top try-scorers having scored 11 and 13 tries respectively this season.
The first try of the match came when the Cheetahs took a quick penalty close to their try-line which was firstly the wrong option. Secondly, their kick was charged down and after regaining the ball, a suicidal Raymond Rhule pass was intercepted by Fifita who scored under the posts as the home side surged into a 7-0 lead after a Beauden Barrett conversion.
After the ball went into touch on the halfway line, the Cheetahs were asleep as Perenara took it quickly allowing the Canes to make some good ground before they went wide. The ball travelled through the hands before Laumape executed a hand off and fed Aso who sprinted over for a try.