The Wellington Hurricanes yesterday ran in six tries to blow away South Africa’s Sharks 41-0 and reach the Super Rugby semi-finals for the second straight year.
The hosts overcame one of the tightest defenses in the competition, despite appallingly wet conditions in the New Zealand capital, condemning the Sharks to the ignominy of being the first side to be held scoreless in a Super Rugby playoff.
Tries from prop Loni Uhila and fullback James Marshall in four minutes of the first half put the visitors well on the back foot, with winger Jason Woodward and lock Vaea Fifita crossing inside two minutes of the second half to seal the win.
Outstanding Hurricanes scrumhalf T.J. Perenara played a part in all four of those tries and added one of his own with a trademark snipe from close range on the hour mark. Flanker Brad Shields scored the sixth in the dying seconds of the match.
The Hurricanes, who lost to the Highlanders in last year’s final, joined the reigning champions in the last four, but are guaranteed a home semi-final after finishing top of the regular season standings.
However, they look likely to be without skipper Dane Coles next week after the All Blacks hooker was forced to leave the pitch with what appeared to be a rib injury soon after halftime.
The Durban-based Sharks, who were looking to become the first foreign team to win a playoff match in New Zealand, had started brightly, but flyhalf Garth April was unable to deal with the swirling wind and missed two early penalty chances.
Hurricanes flyhalf Beauden Barrett had no such problems and kicked the first points of the match in the 14th minute before conjuring up a sublime cross-field kick that led to Uhila’s try three minutes later.
Perenara burst down the blindside from an attacking scrum to send Marshall over in the corner, while Sharks skipper Tendai Mtawarira was denied a try because of a double movement before the half-hour was up.
The Hurricanes turned around 13-0 up, but Woodward added another seven points within as many minutes of the restart after another Perenara charge, in which he rudely barged aside his opposite number Michael Claassens.
Two minutes later, Perenara fielded a high kick before dancing past a couple of defenders and offloading to Uhila, whose quick hands sent Fifita rampaging to the line.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
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Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017