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Hurricanes beat fellow New Zealand side Blues to take lead in Super Rugby Pacific standings

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Josh Moorby scored two first-half tries while Kini Naholo scored one and set up another as the Wellington-based Hurricanes beat the Auckland-based Blues 29-21 Saturday to stay unbeaten after three rounds in Super Rugby Pacific.

The wingers profited from being at the ends of a very skillful Hurricanes backline in which scrumhalf Cam Roigard and fullback Reuben Love were outstanding.

Roigard made line breaks on the fringe of a strong Hurricanes scrum and in the loose and Love stretched the Auckland defense with kicks and long passes. Both were also part of a strong Hurricanes defensive effort.

The Hurricanes and Blues both came into the match with two wins and the Hurricanes now move to the top of the points table near the end of the third round.

The Blues won matches against the Fijian Drua and Dunedin-based Highlanders while the Hurricanes had a harder task and won matches in Australia over the Western Force and Queensland Reds.

“We came back from Australia with two wins under our belt and we went over there trying to accomplish that,” Moorby said. “Coming into this New Zealand derby we wanted to continue our good start this season so taking the win was massive. They’re a big pack and they battled hard. It was just a massive effort from the boys on defense.”

The Blues suffered a major setback when they simultaneously lost fullback Zarn Sullivan and winger A.J. Lam to injuries early in the match. Going into the match, the Blues chose a 6-2 split on the bench with six forwards and two backs. That meant they had no back reserves left after replacing the injured players.

Scrumhalf Taufa Funaki played most of the match on the wing and backrower Hoskins Sotutu had to move to the wing when Mark Tele’a was injured late in the match.

The Hurricanes stung the Blues with tries to Moorby in the 13th and 26th minutes.

Earlier, the seven-time champion Crusaders were beaten 29-20 by the Fijian Drua in Lautoka, Fiji. It’s the second year in the row the Drua have beaten the Christchurch-based Crusaders.

The Crusaders have lost their first three matches for their worst start to a season since the inaugural season of Super Rugby in 1996.

Also on Saturday, the ACT Brumbies rallied from 14-0 down to beat the Western Force 22-19.

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AP rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby