Hurricanes overwhelm Wetern Force

The Hurricanes stormed back from a stuttering first half to overrun the Western Force 41-6 in Palmerston North on Friday.

Backing up from last week’s 23-19 win over the Blues, the Hurricanes looked scrappy in the first half but fired up to run in five second-half tries to secure the bonus point win.

The Hurricanes had the best of the early exchanges but just couldn’t convert their advantage in territory and possession into points on the board.

Passes drifted forward and handling errors proved costly, so despite strong runs from James Marshall, Victor Vito and Ardie Savea, the Hurricanes remained scoreless after 20 minutes.

But pressure eventually told in the 25th minute, returning skipper Dane Coles burrowing over after the Hurricanes bypassed an easy three points and kicked for the corner.

The Force had no answer to a well-worked move off the front of the lineout and Coles celebrated his first game of the season after overcoming hamstring and calf niggles with his seventh Super Rugby try.

Beauden Barrett added the extras, and the Hurricanes looked more comfortable with a 7-3 lead which extended to 10-3 after Barrett slotted another penalty right on the halftime whistle.

Force five-eighth Peter Grant narrowed the gap with another penalty three minutes after the re-start, but the Hurricanes looked to have hit back almost immediately as flanker Vaea Fifita stormed down the left touch.

But with the line in sight, Force fullback Dane Haylett-Petty flew in at the last second to make the try-saving tackle.

The Force were well-organised in defence but paid the price for sloppy work in attack in the 56th minute when TJ Perenara pounced on a loose ball five metres from his own line.

Marshall’s try provided the finishing touch to a movement which swept the length of the field, opening the floodgates as Perenara, Blade Thomson, league convert Ngani Laumape and Ardie Savea all crossed in the last 20 minutes.

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