Hurricanes blow away wasteful Force
Scrumhalf TJ Perenara scored a hat-trick of tries on his first start to help the Hurricanes overcome a lack of possession and score a 46-19 bonus-point win over the profligate Force in their Super Rugby clash in Perth on Friday.
The 19-year-old halfback was impressive in his 60 minutes as the Hurricanes produced devastating counter-attack running to score six tries and claim their second road win of the season despite having half as much possession as their hosts.
"We didn't have a lot of opportunities and were doing a lot of defending but there was great spark when we got the ball and maybe a bit of luck but we took our chances," Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith said in a pitchside interview.
Perenara took advantage of one of those chances in the ninth minute to score the opening try when he took a fumbled offload from winger Julian Savea to burrow over after Hurricanes fullback Andre Taylor had made a clean break through the flimsy Force defence.
The Force enjoyed plenty of possession and forward grit edged them to the visitors line with No 8 Matt Hodgson crashing over from close range to score their sole try in the 19th minute after several phases.
Force flyhalf James Stannard converted but then missed two very kickable penalties before levelling the scores at 10-10 with a third in the 33rd minute.
This video is not available in your region
The Force forwards were putting their side on the front foot throughout as the home side dominated territory and possession but some careless turnovers and good scramble defence by the visitors meant they failed to score the tries their pressure warranted on a hot night.
A rare scrum in the Force 22 brought about the Hurricanes' second try when Perenara was again in the right position to collect an offload from winger Cory Jane to slide over from short range five minutes before the break.
Two minutes before halftime Taylor scored the try of the match when he touched down in the corner after a scintillating 60-metre dash following a stray chip kick by Force fullback Cameron Shepherd.
Trailing 22-10 at the break, the Force continued to press but had only a Stannard penalty to show for their efforts before Perenara completed his hat-trick in the 50th minute.
All Blacks centre Smith grubber kicked behind the Force defence and Savea and Perenara both kicked on before a favourable bounce took the ball away from the Force defender and into the arms of the grateful Wellington scrumhalf who dived over.
Two Stannard penalties brought the Force to within 10 with 20 minutes to go but Wellington lock Jason Eaton finished off a great team passing move to score their fifth try with replacement centre Charlie Ngatai adding a sixth after the buzzer.
"They really took their opportunities and showed us what happens when you fall off a couple of tackles and let them offload," Force skipper David Pocock said.
Western Force – Try: Matt Hodgson. Conversions: James Stannard. Penalties: Stannard (4).
Hurricanes – Tries: TJ Perenara (3), Andre Taylor, Jason Eaton, Charlie Ngatai. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (3), Dan Kirkpatrick (2). Penalties: Barrett, Kirkpatrick.