Vince Aso grabbed a hat-trick for the Hurricanes against the Cheetahs. Photo: John Cowpland, www.photosport.nz

JOHANNESBURG – The Cheetahs must be wishing the Super Rugby competition would end right now.

They have taken several beatings this year and on Saturday were given another whipping, this time by the defending champions the Hurricanes, who hit back in style after going down to the Crusaders the week before.

The home team ran in nine tries – most of them spectacular long-range efforts – to the visitors’ sole first-half converted effort by Fred Zeilinga.

Centre Vince Aso, who has been one of the stars of the competition, scored a scintillating hat-trick and together with midfield partner Ngani Laumape, ripped the Cheetahs backs to pieces.

Both men carved huge holes in the defence, and they’ll come close to playing for the All Blacks next month when the British and Irish Lions visit New Zealand.

This time, however, unlike on so many previous occasions this season, it wasn’t so much the Cheetahs defence that was non-existent, but rather the option-taking by some individuals that was poor that allowed the Hurricanes so much space to operate in.

Also, basic mistakes cost Franco Smith’s men dearly.

The Hurricanes were lethal with turnover ball and when running from deep in their own half, and by halftime they were 21-7 up thanks to tries by Vaea Fifita, Aso and Ardie Savea.

The Cheetahs lost hooker Elandré Huggett to the sin-bin soon after the restart, and by the time he was back on the field, the home team had motored into a 35-7 lead after further tries by TJ Perenara and Aso, who scored his second after a brilliant break by Laumape.

Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Aso and replacements Ben Lam and Leni Apisai then crossed the whitewash to hand the Cheetahs another beating.

The Crusaders might be the leading New Zealand team, having not lost this season, but when the Hurricanes are in the form they showed today – and when the Barrett brothers are on song and the centre pairing click – they are equally hard to beat.

Bad news for Smith’s men is that captain and centre Francois Venter left the field midway through the first half with what looked like a hamstring problem.

He has been one of the few consistent performers in his team in recent weeks and will hope nothing too serious is wrong, especially as he is in the running to play for the Boks against France next month.

The Cheetahs next face the Sunwolves in Tokyo next weekend.

Points-Scorers

Hurricanes 61 – Tries: Vaea Fifita, Vince Aso (3), Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Ben Lam, Leni Apisai. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (5), Otere Black (3).

Cheetahs 7 – Try: Fred Zeilinga. Conversion: Zeilinga (1).

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