WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The Hurricanes provided further evidence that their defense of the Super Rugby title will be a stern one when they crushed the Melbourne Rebels 71-6 in their second match of the season on Saturday.
The Wellington-based side opened its title defense with an 83-17 win over the Japan-based Sunwolves and followed that 13-try performance with an 11-tries to nil victory on Saturday.
All Blacks winger Nehi Milner-Skudder scored three tries in his return to Super Rugby after an almost 18-month absence through injury, while winger Vince Aso and center Ngani Laumape had two tries each.
Matt Procter, Ardie Savea, Jordie Barrett, Reed Princep and Julian Savea also scored tries as the Hurricanes overwhelmed the Rebels, who showed no improvement from their 56-18 loss to the Auckland-based Blues in the first round.
While the Hurricanes have achieved victories over two of the weakest teams in their tournament, away first-up and at home on Saturday, it was the manner rather than the margin of their win which was impressive.
After conceding two early penalties to trail 6-0, the Hurricanes dominated every aspect of the match and launched try-scoring movements from any part of the field.
They based that on their domination of set pieces, they were far too strong for the Rebels at breakdown and they were able to create turnovers at will.
"It's obviously been a pretty good start," Hurricanes captain Dane Coles said. "It's good the way we carried on that attack from last week.
"We probably misjudged the first 10 minutes. We came out and thought it was going to happen just like that but when we were more direct and kept things quite simple we opened them up."
After two penalties to Reece Hodge for the Rebels, Milner-Skudder set the Hurricanes on course to victory with his first try in the 16th minute. The Rebels made the mistake of giving All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett space in attack and he worked a scissors with Milner-Skudder which sent the fullback over close to the posts.
Aso scored twice before halftime and his second try in the 31st minute was one of the Hurricanes' best involving an almost length of the field breakout and interchange of passes with scrumhalf T.J. Perenara.
Laumape and Procter also scored to give the Hurricanes a 31-6 lead by halftime. Any chance of a Rebels revival was denied when flanker Ardie Savea scored in the second minute of the second half, then Princep, Jordie Barrett and Julian Savea scored tries which made the margin 52-6.
The Rebels will now try to regroup during the first bye week of the season next weekend.
"Obviously it was a pretty bad performance in all facets of the game, set-piece, turnovers and just about everything," Rebels captain Nic Stirzaker said. "We started well as we did last week but we've got to look at why we can't do that for 80 minutes."