Rugby: Super Rugby defending champs Hurricanes blow Sunwolves aside

Blade Thomson touches down for a try for the Wellington Hurricanes. The champions ran in 13 tries in an overwhelming 83-17 victory, but the Sunwolves had 12 players making their debut in the match.
Blade Thomson touches down for a try for the Wellington Hurricanes. The champions ran in 13 tries in an overwhelming 83-17 victory, but the Sunwolves had 12 players making their debut in the match.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

TOKYO • A rampant Wellington Hurricanes began the defence of their Super Rugby title by pulverising Japan's Sunwolves 83-17 yesterday, scoring 13 tries in an embarrassingly lopsided game.

Ardie Savea, Vince Aso and Michael Fatialofa all crashed over the line twice in the Tokyo sunshine as the visitors threatened to break a slew of records against the shambolic Sunwolves, a side co-based in Singapore and looking to rebound from last year's baptism of fire.

Fly-half Otere Black added nine conversions. Late tries from Shokei Kin and Willie Britz barely papered over the cracks for the Sunwolves, who won just one of 15 games in their inaugural Super Rugby season.

"It was a tough old day at the office," Sunwolves head coach Filo Tiatia said. "But what I was really pleased about was that the players didn't give up. We managed to score three tries against a very, very good defensive team. "

"It was a big score. But there are lessons in life. Twelve guys made their debut today, awesome - I think we should be celebrating that."

All Blacks winger Julian Savea produced arguably the moment of the match after 28 minutes when he ran coast to coast to score, living up to his nickname "The Bus" as he smashed through two tackles to race clear.

The Japanese team were criticised after struggling mightily last year, with former Japan coach Eddie Jones - now in charge of England - slamming them as "embarrassing" after a 92-17 mauling by the Cheetahs.

Their latest thrashing will increase pressure on the Sunwolves, especially amid suggestions that teams could be axed by the organisers Sanzaar, despite expanding the competition to 18 clubs last season.

Sunwolves captain Ed Quirk, whose team take on the Kings next Saturday at the National Stadium in Singapore, attempted to put a positive spin on the result.

"You saw in that last 20 minutes, we executed exactly what we wanted to do," said the Australian. "It got a bit tough down our end but we showed true grit to score two tries at the end."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 26, 2017, with the headline 'Champs Hurricanes blow Sunwolves aside'. Print Edition | Subscribe