Ioane stars as Blues thump Rebels in Super Rugby opener


Rieko Ioane scored a hat-trick as Blues started the Super Rugby season in style with a seven-try 56-18 rout of Rebels in Melbourne on Thursday.

Tana Umaga was unable to call on the likes of Jerome Kaino, James Parsons and Sonny Bill Williams at AAMI Park due to injury, but watched his side rack up their biggest points tally in the competition for seven years.

Teenage centre Ioane gave another devastating display of his potential, intercepting to go over just before half-time and touching down twice after the break on a miserable evening for Rebels - who were also missing key men due to injury.

A youthful Rebels team led 12-8 midway through the first half following tries from captain Nic Stirzaker and new signing Jackson Garden-Bachop, but the side from Auckland hit back with scores from Pauliasi Manu, Matt Duffie and Iaone to lead 25-15 at the break.

Umaga's side ran away with it in the second half, with Augustine Pulu bursting through for a debut try before the rapid Ioane - who made his New Zealand debut against Italy in November - darted down the left for a superb second.

Melani Nanai raced onto a clever kick from Ihaia West to add another five-pointer and Ioane was gifted a treble by his brother, Akira, before West took his tally with the boot to 18 points as Blues laid down a marker.