Scrumhalf T.J. Perenara scored a hat-trick of tries on his first start to help the Wellington Hurricanes overcome a lack of possession and score a 46-19 bonus-point win over the profligate Western Force in their Super Rugby clash in Perth yesterday.
The 19-year-old halfback was impressive in his 60 minutes as the Hurricanes produced devastating counter-attack running to score six tries and claim their second road win of the season despite having half as much possession as their hosts. Perenara took advantage of one of those chances in the ninth minute to score the opening try when he took a fumbled offload from winger Julian Savea to burrow over after Hurricanes fullback Andre Taylor had made a clean break through the flimsy Force defense.
The Force enjoyed plenty of possession and forward grit edged them to the visitors line with No. 8 Matt Hodgson crashing over from close range to score their sole try in the 19th minute after several phases.
Force flyhalf James Stannard converted, but then missed two penalties before leveling the scores at 10-10 with a third in the 33rd minute.
The Force forwards were putting their side on the front foot throughout as the home side dominated territory and possession, but some careless turnovers and good scramble defense by the visitors meant they failed to score the tries their pressure warranted.
A rare scrum in the Force 22 brought about the Hurricanes’ second try when Perenara was again in the right position to collect an offload from winger Cory Jane to slide over from short range five minutes before the break.
Two minutes before halftime, Taylor scored the try of the match when he touched down in the corner after a scintillating 60m dash following a stray chip kick by Force fullback Cameron Shepherd.
Trailing 22-10 at the break, the Force continued to press, but had only a Stannard penalty to show for their efforts before Perenara completed his hat-trick in the 50th minute.
All Blacks center Smith grubber kicked behind the Force defense and Savea and Perenara both kicked on before a favorable bounce took the ball away from the Force defender and into the arms of the grateful Wellington scrumhalf who dived over.
Two Stannard penalties brought the Force to within 10 with 20 minutes to go, but Wellington lock Jason Eaton finished off a great team passing move to score their fifth try with replacement center Charlie Ngatai adding a sixth after the buzzer.
In other Super Rugby action, Prop Sona Taumalolo scored one of his trademark barging tries to help the Waikato Chiefs to a 24-19 win over the Canterbury Crusaders in their matchup yesterday.