Wellington - Julian Savea bounced back from public humiliation over his lack of fitness with a hat-trick of tries as the Hurricanes downed the Jaguares 40-22 in a Super Rugby clash in Wellington on Saturday.
In the first outing for the All Blacks' star after being put on an intensive fitness regime two weeks ago he showed signs of his blockbusting best, breaking the game open with a touchdown double just on halftime.
He scored his third try in the 62nd minute to push the Wellington Hurricanes out to a 33-15 lead.
The Hurricanes outscored the Jaguares six tries to three, with the bonus-point try scored by replacement prop Ben May on fulltime.
With four wins from six games, the Hurricanes lie fourth in the New Zealand conference while the Jaguares have now lost five of six and are third in the Africa 2 conference.
They did indicate they were capable of producing a boilover in the first half when they were winning the forward exchanges and lead 12-7 after 31 minutes.
But Savea turned the tide with his first try, two minutes from the break when Beauden Barrett put Blade Thomson through a hole and the big lock threw a long pass to send the wing crashing over in the corner.
Savea scored again immediately from the restart when scrumhalf TJ Perenara broke around the blind side of a maul and kicked downfield with the 'Canes wing outsprinting Jaguares speedster Matias Orlando in a 40-metre race to recover the ball and score.
Barrett, who finished with a match haul of 15 points, converted both tries from wide out for the Hurricanes to turn with a 21-12 lead.
Nicolas Sanchez narrowed the gap with a penalty 10 minutes into the second half before Dane Coles and Savea scored in quick succession.
Jaguares standout scrumhalf Martin Landajo kept the Jaguares in the hunt with a try in the 67th minute before they wilted to their heaviest defeat of the year with May's late try.
The Hurricanes were first on the board when Barrett scored after Brad Shields secured turnover ball and Ardie Savea mounted a counter-attack.
But when Ardie Savea was yellow-carded for collapsing a maul when the Jaguares were driving for the line, the South American's took advantage of the one-man advantage with a try to Leonardo Senatore.
Moroni scored the Jaguares second try to put them five points ahead before Savea revived the Hurricanes fortunes.
Tries: Barrett, J Savea (3), Coles, May
Conversions: Barrett (5)
Yellow Card: A Savea
Tries: Senatore, Moroni, Landajo
Conversions: Sánchez (2)
15 Cory Jane, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Willis Halaholo, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Blade Thomson, 4 Michael Fatialofa, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (c), 1 Reggie Goodes
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Ben May, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Otere Black, 23 Vince Aso
15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Matías Orlando, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Santiago González Iglesias, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo (c), 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Rodrigo Báez, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 Santiago García Botta
Replacements: 16 Facundo Bosch, 17 Roberto Tejerizo, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Juan Cruz Guillemaín, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 23 Joaquín Paz