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Rampant Hurricanes overwhelm Rebels

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/03/2017

Fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder bagged a hat-trick on return as the Hurricanes dished out a 71-6 trouncing of the Melbourne Rebels in Wellington.

The defending champions made it two cakewalks from two in scoring 11 unanswered tries, a week after dissecting the Sunwolves 83-17 in Tokyo.

Likewise, the Rebels succumbed to a second demoralising loss following their opening 38-point home thrashing at the hands of the Blues.

Milner-Skudder was the chief beneficiary, looking sharp in his first Super Rugby game for a year.

The quick-stepping eight-Test back's 2016 season was ruined by a shoulder injury and he missed the Tokyo match with a hamstring niggle.

He stepped deftly between Jackson Garden-Bachop and Mitch Inman to score the Hurricanes' first try after the visitors had forged a 6-0 lead through penalties to Reece Hodge.

The floodgates opened and rarely looked like being plugged from that point.

Under a blazing sun, the Hurricanes backs ran amok against out-matched opponents and could easily have scored more.

Near-tries to Milner-Skudder and All Blacks first five-eighth Beauden Barrett, in his first start of the year, were both ruled out.

The Hurricanes boasted a dominant scrum and won numerous Rebels lineout throws, particularly in the second spell.

As happened in Japan, many of their tries were spectacular, long-range efforts, often creating holes through offloads or quick hands.

Captain Dane Coles said the work of the pack, led by flanker Ardie Savea, couldn't be underestimated.

"We were probably a bit guilty of coming out thinking it was going to happen in that first 10. But when we got quite direct and kept things quite simple, we opened them up," he said.

"We'll enjoy the win and it's good to be back at home."

It was the first Hurricanes home match since beating the Lions in the final seven months ago to clinch their maiden title.

Winger Vince Aso and second five-eighth Ngani Laumape bagged doubles for the hosts, who led 31-6 at halftime.

The other try-scorers were centre Matt Proctor, No.8 Reed Prinsep and the Savea brothers, Julian and Ardie.

The Rebels had very little to cheer, guilty of kicking away possession aimlessly and falling off tackles.

Former Melbourne Storm NRL star winger Marika Koroibete had few opportunities but played competently. He came closest to crossing for the visitors but was bundled into touch in the right corner by opposite Julian Savea.

Rebels captain Nic Stirzaker was struggling to nominate any positives.

"Obviously it was a pretty bad performance in all facets - set piece, turnover attack and just about everything," he said.

"Once they got a couple of tries, their tails were up and it was all over from there I reckon."

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