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Hurricanes blow away Blues

TAMATI Ellison and Ma'a Nonu each scored two tries as the Wellington Hurricanes consolidated first place in Super 14 rugby with a 45-27 home win over the Auckland Blues yesterday.

The Hurricanes ensured they will remain atop the championship table through the current 12th of 14 regular-season rounds by winning for the eighth time this season and banking a four-try bonus point within 20 minutes of the start.

In a match with little defense, the teams traded five tries inside the first quarter of the game, and seven tries in a spectacular first half after which the Hurricanes led 35-13.

Ellison and Nonu shared three of the Hurricanes' five first-half tries while others went to All Blacks Conrad Smith and Scott Waldrom.

Auckland's first-half tries came from All Blacks Joe Rokocoko and Anthony Tuitavake, while flyhalf Jimmy Gopperth - against his old side - managed only a penalty from his four first-half kicks at goal.

The second half began with Blues' winger Rene Ranger scoring his team's third try, the eighth of the match, 90 seconds into the half. A combination of exhaustion and a loss of structure slowed the scoring tempo from that point.

Both coaches introduced substitutes early in the second half to refresh their teams but the attacking play lacked the sharpness.

"We were actually quite disappointed today," Wellington captain Rodney So'oialo said. "We (picked up) five points but the game was quite unstructured and we were quite disappointed with the way it went."

Auckland claimed a four-try bonus point when Dean Budd crossed in the 80th minute.

Meanwhile, Australia and New Zealand officials still hope to have South Africa in the Super tournament alliance beyond 2011, but said yesterday that they are planning for an Asia-Pacific contest in case an agreement cannot be reached.

"The New Zealand Rugby Union and Australian Rugby Union will continue to work toward expanding Super rugby from 2011 in partnership with South Africa despite the current impasse in negotiations with SA Rugby," NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew and his Australian counterpart, John O'Neill, said in a joint statement yesterday.

But it said Australia and New Zealand have contingency plans.

"New Zealand and Australia are also determined to deliver a competition of the highest integrity to supporters and broadcasters and believe South African calls for further compromise will impact on that commitment. Talks will therefore continue on an alternative plan - an Asia-Pacific competition - to ensure a valuable and viable tournament is ready for implementation ..."


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