WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Jordie Barrett reminded All Blacks coach Steve Hansen of his World Cup aspirations as he scored two early tries to help the Wellington Hurricanes beat the Waikato Chiefs 47-19 in Super Rugby on Saturday.
Hansen is looking at the makeup of his back three for the tournament in Japan after utility back Damian McKenzie ruptured a knee ligament and was ruled out for the rest of the year.
Barrett, who has played fullback and on the wing for the All Blacks, reminded Hansen of his own credentials in the number 15 jersey in his first appearance there for the Hurricanes since week two. He finished the game in the midfield, where he has played twice this season.
Kane Leaupepe, TJ Perenara, Wes Goosen, Ardie Savea and debutant Salesi Rayasi also crossed for the home side, who moved to 32 points and consolidated their hold on second place in the New Zealand conference behind the Canterbury Crusaders (39).
Luke Jacobson, Ataata Moeakiola and Lachlan Boshier all scored tries for the Chiefs, who had given the Hurricanes a 21-0 lead after 17 minutes before they managed to fight back and keep it tight until early in the second half.
The Chiefs, who appeared totally dysfunctional in the first quarter as Barrett (twice) and Leaupepe crossed, were rewarded with both Jacobson and Moeakiola crashing over from in close following sustained pressure and looking to have fought their way back into the game.
Poor defending again, however, allowed the Hurricanes to run at them and into space with Perenara twisting in the tackle to plant the ball after he had appeared to have been held up to give the Hurricanes a 28-12 lead at halftime.
Boshier gave the Chiefs the perfect riposte early in the second half to reduce the gap but that was really the last shot the visitors fired as the Hurricanes again proved resilient at soaking up pressure and striking when they needed to.
Goosen extended the lead when he outpaced two defenders on the outside before Savea scored the try of the match when he affected a turnover deep in his own territory and Perenara sprinted clear, fed Jordie Barrett, who then found the openside flanker to finish off the movement he started 80 metres away.
Winger Rayasi finished off the scoring with his second touch of the ball in his first game.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)