Super Rugby Pacific: Hurricanes overrun Moana Pasifika in final pre-season hitout at Upper Hutt

Flanker Du'Plessi Kirifi and winger Kini Naholo - along with referee Paul Williams - have secured try doubles, as the Hurricanes overran Moana Pasifika 59-26 in a Super Rugby Pacific pre-season clash at Upper Hutt.

A week out from the start of the regular season, both sides ran their full squads, with the Hurricanes 

Moana Pasifika were first on the board, when young Tonga No.8 Semisi Paea barrelled over for a try, but within moments, the Hurricanes struck down the other end, when their rolling maul was collapsed on the line and a penalty try awarded.

Peter Lakai pursues the ball against Maona Pasifika.
Peter Lakai pursues the ball against Maona Pasifika. Photo credit: Getty Images

Hurricanes tryscoring recordholder Julian Savea wasn't wanted by his home franchise this year and he made his old teammates pay, when he stormed across to put Moana Pasifika ahead again.

No.8 Peter Lakai latched onto a long pass from Ruben Love and charged 30 metres for the Hurricanes. Winger Salesi Rayasi put the Moana defence under pressure and offloaded for Reon Paul to finish. 

Flanker Du'Plessis Kirifi gathered the ball from an untidy lineout win and simply carved through the defence to score next to the uprights, before nailing a rapid double to gift the Hurricanes a 33-14 advantage.

The home side injected Barrett and Lomax into the contest at halftime, and Williams brought up his penalty try double, after the Hurricanes forwards laid siege to the tryline.

D'Angelo Leuila powered over for the Pacific side, but Harry Godfrey broke from halfway and found Naholo to score in the corner.

Moana enjoyed a period of sustained pressure that saw them cross twice, but called back for prior infringements. They were building another promising attack, when a turnover saw the Hurricanes break from their own half and halfback Kyle Preston took the final pass.

Naholo had a try double before the end to cap a freeflowing affair.

The Hurricanes open their regular season account against Western Force next Saturday, while Moana Pasifika face the Highlanders later that same day.

Hurricanes 59 (Kirifi 2, Naholo 2, Lakai, Paul, Preston tries; 2 penalty tries; Morgan 3 conversions, Cameron 2 conversions) Moana Pasifika 26 (Paea, Savea, Leuila tries; Havili 2 conversions, Lealiifano conversion)

Meanwhile, the Blues have come from behind for a morale-boosting 38-24 win over southern rivals Chiefs at Takapuna's Onewa Domain.

Trailling 17-5 just before halftime, the home side closed the margin with a try to Caleb Tangitau before the break, when both coaches switched out their entire teams for the second 40 minutes.

With their near-fullstrength line-ups on the park, the Blues were quickly in stride, as winger wingers Mark Telea grabbed a try double and All Blacks teammate Caleb Clarke produced a length-of-the-field effort, chasing down Stephen Perofeta's kick to race away.

The Blues host Fijian Drua next Saturday, while the Chiefs face the Crusaders in a rematch of last year's Super Rugby Pacific final on Friday.

Blues 38 (Telea 2, Funaki, Tangitau, Eklund, Clarke tries; Perofeta 3 conversions) Chiefs 24 (Lienert-Brown, Tuhakaraina, Florence, Ross try, Jacomb conversion, McKenzie conversion)

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