Hurricanes take major step towards minor premiership

Hurricanes take major step towards minor premiership

Winger Salesi Rayasi has celebrated his 50th game for the club in style as he crossed for a hat-trick in a 41-14 win over the Highlanders.

The bonus point win takes the club one step closer to the minor premiership, requiring the Blues to defeat the Chiefs with a bonus point to secure top spot.

The Highlanders were locked into sixth place after Fijian Drua’s win over Melbourne Rebels, yet showed no sign of letting off early when a 50-22 set up Matt Whaanga for the opening try.

This only kicked the hosts into gear as returning hooker Asafo Aumua took over the game.

He sprinted down the wing and beat his men before setting up Rayasi for his opening try in the sixth minute.

Another strong run set up Du’Plessis Kirifi to dive over before a one-two with TJ Perenara extended the scrum half’s lead as Super Rugby’s highest all-time try-scorer.

Rayasi’s second of the afternoon suddenly gave the Hurricanes a 24-7 lead as they eyed off the minor premiership.

The Highlanders eventually rallied and lock Fabian Holland crashed over just after the half hour mark.

However, their dominance was short lived when Rayasi went through a hole and Kirifi dived over for his second try.

A yellow card to Connor Garden-Bachop only further their woes, sent for ten for a high tackle on Devan Flanders in the build up.

This gave the Hurricanes a 15-point lead heading into the break.

Rayasi completed the hat-trick after the break as the Highlanders once again drew the ire of referee Nic Berry, this time Sam Gilbert yellow carded for a high shot.

With Gilbert in the bin, Brayden Iose sealed the win with their seventh try of the night to secure the maximum points.

The only concerns for the Hurricanes will be the fitness of TJ Perenara and Ruben Love, with both backs limping off the field with knocks.

They will face either the Melbourne Rebels or Fijian Drua in the quarter-finals.

Hurricanes 41 (Tries: Rayasi 3, Iose, Perenara, Kirifi 2; Cons: Cameron 3) def Highlanders 14 (Tries: Whaanga, Holland; Cons: Gilbert 2)


Hurricanes: 15 Ruben Love, 14 Josh Moorby, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Jordie Barrett (captain), 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Brett Cameron, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brayden Iose, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Devan Flanders, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Tucker, 3 Pasilio Tosi, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Xavier Numia.
Replacements: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Tevita Mafileo, 19 Justin Sangster, 20 Peter Lakai, 21 Jordi Viljoen, 22 Riley Higgins, 23 Bailyn Sullivan.

Highlanders: 15 Finn Hurley, 14 Connor Garden-Bachop, 13 Matt Whaanga, 12 Sam Gilbert, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Ajay Faleafaga, 9 James Arscott, 8 Nikora Broughton, 7 Billy Harmon (co-captain), 6 Max Hicks, 5 Fabian Holland, 4 Will Tucker, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Henry Bell, 1 Ethan de Groot (co-captain).
Replacements: 16 Jack Taylor, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Saula Ma’u, 19 Tom Sanders, 20 Hayden Michaels, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Jake Te Hiwi, 23 Martín Bogado.

Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Reuben Keane, George Myers
TMO: Brett Cronan

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