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Hurricanes stay perfect in Super Rugby Pacific

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DUNEDIN, New Zealand (AP) — The Wellington-based Hurricanes stretched their winning start to the Super Rugby Pacific season to six games Saturday with a comprehensive 47-7 win over the Highlanders in Dunedin.

The Hurricanes had almost made the game safe by halftime, scoring four tries to lead 26-0. They added another try in the first minute of the second half, then two more in the last 15 minutes to make it seven tries in all.

The only negative note for the Hurricanes, who extended their lead atop the table, was a serious injury to scrumhalf Cam Roigard who left the field in the 58th minute.

The Hurricanes are operating at a level higher than any other team in the tournament. Their set pieces are exceptional and the pace at which they play has stretched all of their opponents. Their backs are quick-witted and able to take immediate advantage of line breaks and turnovers.

No team so far can match the Hurricanes’ strength from positions six to 10. They have the best backrow in Super Rugby and the best halves pairing, though Roigard’s injury is a concern.

T.J. Perenara came off the bench to replace Roigard and to play a record 154th match for the Hurricanes. He scored his 60th Super Rugby try, joining Israel Folau in second place on the all-time list, one try behind former Hurricanes winger Julian Savea.

“This is exactly what we planned for, a tough, resilient Highlanders side,” Hurricanes center Jordie Barrett said. “We knew we had to start well and that’s exactly what we got in that first half.”

The Hurricanes scored tries in the 11th and 18th minutes through Xavier Numia and Peter Lakai after Highlanders fullback Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens was sin-binned. Roigard was among the first half scorers.

Josh Moorby scored from an intercept in the opening minute of the second half. Fullback Ruben Love was outstanding throughout the match and claimed seven personal turnovers.

“We’re setting ourselves up well for the season,” Barrett said. “Our big guys one through eight are going so well at the moment.

“It’s really nice when you can win some scrum penalties and some dominance up front.”

The Fijian Drua remain unbeaten at home this season after a 31-13 win over the Western Force at Churchill Park, Lautoka.

The match was played in typical Lautoka conditions, hot and humid and with teeming rain that turned the ground into a skating rink. They are conditions in which Fijian players are brought up and thrive.

Young flyhalf Isaiah Ravula-Armstrong controlled the game, putting through a chip kick for a key second half try to Iosefo Masi.

The Drua led 18-5 at halftime and held on in the second half, despite a red card to Tevita Ikanivere for a dangerous clean-out.

All Blacks winger Mark Tele’a scored three tries for the Auckland-based Blues who beat Moana Pasifika 47-8 for their fifth win from six matches this season.

The game was a “home” match for Moana Pasifika but played on the Blues’ home ground at Eden Park.

It was fast-paced but spoiled by handling errors from both teams. The Blues thrived on turnovers conceded by Moana Pasifika and scored seven tries to one.

Winger Caleb Clark, center Bryce Heem, flyhalf Stephen Perofeta and scrumhalf Finlay Christie also touched down as backs scored all of the Blues’ points.

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AP rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby

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