25 Feb 2017

Hurricanes romp to record in Tokyo

7:37 pm on 25 February 2017

Ardie Savea, Vince Aso and Michael Fatialofa all scored two tries each as the Hurricanes opened their Super Rugby title defence by humiliating Japan's Sunwolves in a record 83-17 victory.

Ardie Savea.

Ardie Savea. Photo: Photosport

The reigning champions scored 13 tries in total as they destroyed the hapless Sunwolves, who finished 18th and last in their debut season last year, in front of a large crowd at Prince Chichibu Stadium.

Ricky Riccitelli, Brad Shields, Blade Thomson, stand-in captain TJ Perenara, Julian Savea, Ngani Laumape and replacement Wes Goosen all crossed to help the Hurricanes to the highest points tally for a visiting team in Super Rugby.

Flyhalf Otere Black added nine conversions.

The Hurricanes had racked up 83 points with 20 minutes remaining and looked on course to become the first side to pass the century mark before falling off the pace.

Fullback Riaan Viljoen, replacement Shokei Kin and number eight Willie Britz scored consolation tries for the Sunwolves but the margin of defeat will only fuel criticism of imbalances in the competition.

The Sunwolves, who compete in the Africa 1 conference, did not meet any of the New Zealand sides in their maiden season but must play all five this year.

Governing body SANZAAR are considering a number of changes to the competition, which could be implemented as early as next year, with suggestions teams could be cut despite expanding to 18 sides last season.

While pundits and media have suggested South Africa's Kings and Australia's Western Force could be in the firing line, the heavy defeat could extend the conversation to the Sunwolves.

The Japanese side, who Britz said had only been together for 17 days, were also hammered 92-17 by South Africa's Cheetahs last season.

The Hurricanes, who benched All Blacks Beauden Barrett and Dane Coles, suffered a setback before kickoff when former test winger Cory Jane withdrew with a neck injury.

Aso, who normally plays in the midfield, replaced Jane but the late change did nothing to upset the side's rhythm as they were able to offload out of numerous tackles and put players into space.

The Hurricanes put the game beyond doubt inside 20 minutes with five unanswered tries and led 45-5 at halftime. They finished the game with 14 men after lock Fatialofa was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle.

- Reuters