Aso grabs hat-trick as Hurricanes destroy Cheetahs
WELLINGTON, May 20 (Reuters) - Rampaging centre Vince Aso scored a hat-trick of tries to fire the Wellington Hurricanes to a record 61-7 demolition of the Cheetahs in their Super Rugby match on Saturday.
Teaming up with midfield accomplice Ngani Laumape, Aso crossed once in the first half and twice after the break in the nine-try rout at Wellington Regional Stadium, the home side's biggest winning margin over the South Africans.
Vaea Fifita, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Ben Lam and Leni Apisai also crossed for the Hurricanes, who were back to their enterprising best after being humbled by the competition-leading Canterbury Crusaders last week.
The Cheetahs slumped to their ninth loss of the season, three years after a 60-27 hammering in their previous meeting in Wellington.
The Hurricanes dominated early but were unable to convert their possession and territory into points until two lapses of concentration from the visitors gifted the home side two tries in as many minutes.
The Cheetahs were first guilty of botching a 22-metre drop-out and as the ball bounced around in front of the posts, lock Fifita pounced on a loose pass to canter over for the opening try.
The lead was stretched to 14-0 in the 20th minute when a quickly taken lineout by scrumhalf Perenara left the Cheetahs disorganised at the back before quick hands put Aso clear for his first try.
The Cheetahs responded five minutes later when flyhalf Fred Zeilinga finished off a sweeping move from a lineout to score under the posts.
The Cheetahs did well to keep the Hurricanes at bay for the remainder of the half until loose forward Savea rumbled over from a driving maul on the stroke of halftime.
The floodgates opened wide after the break as Perenara and Aso crossed for two tries in two minutes.
The forwards rumbled prop Toomaga-Allen over near the posts for the fifth try in the 57th minute.
Five minutes later, a line-break from deep in defence by Laumape put Aso over for his third try as the centre ran onto to his team mate's kick and charged away.
Brad Shields carried the ball to halfway, dishing off to replacement back Lam who bolted over for the Hurricanes' eighth try in the 70th minute before Apisai completed the Cheetahs' humiliation four minutes later by crossing for the ninth. (Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by John O'Brien)