Former Sharks wing Kobus van Wyk bagged a hat-trick in a sensational debut for the Hurricanes who hammered the Sunwolves 62-15 in a 10-try Super Rugby romp in Napier on Saturday.
The bonus-point win lifted the Hurricanes to second equal with the Chiefs in the New Zealand conference, a point behind the Crusaders with both the Chiefs and Crusaders on a bye week.
The 28-year-old van Wyk joined the Hurricanes at the start of the season but had been sidelined by injury until this week.
When the South African did take the field, he scored twice in the first half and again in the second as the Hurricanes ran away with the match.
The Sunwolves started strongly and wrong-footed the Hurricanes to have Australian-born lock Michael Stolberg score in the fourth minute.
But it did not take the Hurricanes long to strike back and by half-time they were up 28-10 before adding a further 32 points in the second half.
It was another disappointment for the Tokyo-based Sunwolves, who opened the season with an unexpected win over the Melbourne Rebels, but have seen their farewell year in Super Rugby go downhill since.
The 10 tries to two loss to the Hurricanes simply added to a week of bad luck for the side who were told Friday their matches against the Brumbies in Osaka next week and against the Crusaders in Tokyo a week later have been moved to Australia due to fears over the deadly coronavirus.
Despite the setbacks, they rattled the Hurricanes early on in a short-lived show of promise before Ngani Laumape put the Hurricanes within striking range and wing van Wyk touched down for his opening try.
After a Jumpei Ogura penalty regained the lead for the Sunwolves, the Hurricanes stepped up a gear, producing back-to-back tries to fullback Chase Tiatia with Van Wyk chiming in with his second for the ‘Canes to turn with a healthy 28-10 lead.
Ben Lam, TJ Perenara, Gareth Evans, Van Wyk, Laumape and Vince Aso all scored for the Hurricanes in the second half while Siosaia Fifita touched down for the Sunwolves’ second try.
Tries: Van Wyk 3, Tiatia 2, Lam, Perenara, Evans, Laumape, Aso
Cons: Smith 5, Tiatia
Tries: Stolberg, Fifita
15 Chase Tiatia, 14 Kobus Van Wyk, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11
Ben Lam, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 Thomas Perenara, 8 Gareth Evans, 7
Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3
Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Xavier Numia.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Ben May, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Devan Flanders, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 James Marshall, 23 Peter Umaga-Jensen.
Alex Horan, 14 Siosaia Fifita, 13 Keisuke Moriya, 12 Shogo Nakano, 11
James Dargaville, 10 Jumpei Ogura, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Jake Schatz
(captain), 7 Mitch Jacobson, 6 Tevita Tupou, 5 Michael Stolberg, 4
Kotaro Yatabe, 3 Hencus Van Wyk, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Jarred Adams.
Replacements: 16 Efitusi Maafu, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Conraad Van Vuuren, 19 Justin Downey, 20 Shunsuke Nunomaki, 21 Naoto Saito, 22 Johannes Engelbrecht, 23 Tautalatasi Tasi.
Referee: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand) Dan Waenga (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)