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Super Rugby: Hurricanes end eight-match losing run after beating Cheetahs
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The Hurricanes ended their eight-match Super Rugby losing streak with a crushing 60-27 win over the Cheetahs on Saturday.
The home side were without a win since May 11 last year but two tries and 23 points from fly-half Beauden Barrett led them to victory with Dane Coles, Chris Smylie, James Marshall, Jeremy Thrush, Matt Proctor, Conrad Smith and Alapati Leiua also crossing.
Willie le Roux, Philip van der Walt and Francois Uys scored tries for the South Africans with Johan Goosen booting 12 points.
It was Barrett who opened the scoring in the fifth minute as he took a kick ahead from wing Raymond Rhule at point blank range just inside his own 22 and marked the ball.
A quick tap followed and he hoofed the ball downfield and set off after it. His opposite number Goosen fielded the ball and took Barrett on only to be caught. The ball was cleared by Smith and was moved to the right.
After two rucks the ball was shifted to the short side where quick hands through wings Julian Savea and Leiua got the ball to Coles who scored.
Two minutes later the Cheetahs demonstrated their own intent when Le Roux joined the backline and threw a pass to centre Johann Sadie who returned the ball inside to the full-back who raced under the posts.
While the Cheetahs got out to a 13-7 lead courtesy of two penalties from Goosen, the brilliance of Barrett in the 18th minute made up for a missed Hurricanes try moments earlier following a blindside break by Smylie which created a chance only for Savea to lose the ball in the tackle.
Raced away for a try
But an attempted clearance from the Cheetahs was brought back downfield by the home side and Barrett dropped the ball onto his left foot to get through the defence. He raced forward to claim the bounce and beat Le Roux to race away for the try.
Le Roux showed his own attacking skills in the 26th minute to provide an opening which Van der Walt raced onto and, courtesy of some slack Hurricanes tackling, turned it into a try.
The helter-skelter stuff continued when a superb pass from Leiua was picked up by Smylie who crossed for the try.
Just before half-time a backline foray by Julian Savea carried play deep into the Cheetahs half. The ball was moved to the short side and quick hands allowed Smith to feed full-back Marshall down the wing for the bonus point.
The Cheetahs appeared to be hard done by the sin-binning of Le Roux early in the second half when he appeared to make a legitimate attempt at an intercept only to be penalised for a deliberate knock-down.
In the next Hurricanes incursion into the line Barrett broke through with ease to score as the home side pulled away.
Some inter-play between the Savea brothers followed after Julian kept the ball in play and flicked a pass to Ardie who then returned it. Julian sprinted down field and, in a linking movement, it was Smylie who took the ball to the line and in the resulting ruck the ball came to Thrush who drove over.
The Cheetahs came back with a driving lineout maul producing a try for Uys.
But any hopes of a late Cheetahs comeback were extinguished when replacement wing Proctor crossed in the 60th minute while Smith, making his 100th Super Rugby appearance, scored the penultimate try with Leiua taking advantage of the 20th turnover by the Cheetahs and scoring the last.