Hurricanes winger Julian Savea has awoken, rumbling over for a hat-trick in their scratchy 40-22 Super Rugby home win over the Jaguares.
The prolific All Blacks’ finisher rediscovered his attacking mojo, scoring half of his team’s tries in a bonus-point win which extends their unbeaten streak to four.
While the team performance was nothing to celebrate, Savea’s energetic outing was after a lacklustre start to the season. He was dropped ahead of last week’s bye because of a lack of form and fitness.
Savea’s first two tries, in the two minutes before halftime, swung the game’s momentum, turning a 12-7 deficit into a 21-12 lead.
Both came in the left corner after breaks from halfback TJ Perenara. Savea used his trademark power for the first and then a burst of pace to chase down Perenara’s grubber kick on the stroke of the break.
His third try complemented five-pointers to captain Dane Coles and reserve prop Ben May on the stroke of fulltime to lodge a flattering win, handing the Jaguares the biggest loss of their short existence.
It was the fourth defeat in succession for the Argentine team, who crossed through No.8 Leonardo Senatore and centre Matias Moroni midway through the first half.
The first came while Hurricanes flanker Ardie Savea was in the sin bin for a professional foul while the latter was a 70m intercept effort.
The visitors are still missing a number of key players, most of whom will return from an enforced rest break ahead of next week’s clash with the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Cory Jane had a relatively quiet night at fullback for the Hurricanes before leaving near the end to a standing ovation after playing his 100th Super Rugby game.
His team have lodged 40-point winning performances in their past three games but are still to produce the all-purpose style which marked a brilliant 2015 season.