Milner-Skudder back with a bang as Hurricanes crush Rebels

Updated: 

Nehe Milner-Skudder marked his return to Super Rugby with a stunning hat-trick as defending Super Rugby champions the Hurricanes tore the Rebels apart on Saturday.

The All Blacks winger had been sidelined for a year with a shoulder injury but showed no sign of any rustiness with a brilliant display as the Hurricanes scored 71 unanswered points after falling 6-0 down in Wellington.

Two penalties from Reece Hodge gave the Rebels the early advantage, but that was as good as it got for the Australian side as their hosts ran in 11 tries in a rampant display.

Milner-Skudder opened his account in the 17th minute as he jinked his way through the Rebels' defence following a piercing run and pass from Beauden Barrett.

He completed his treble late in the game as the Hurricanes made it two bonus-point wins from two in the early rounds of the 2017 competition.

After a defeat on the opening weekend, Highlanders looked on course to get their first win on the board against Crusaders, but they were denied in a dramatic finish.

Gareth Evans grabbed his side's first try of the season before a Waisake Naholo double and five kicks from Lima Sopoaga put the Highlanders 27-6 ahead with 30 minutes of the clash to play.

They were unable to hold on, though, as David Havili, Whetu Douglas and a penalty try set up a grandstand finish, with Seta Tamanivalu applying the finishing touch for the visitors with a 90-metre break - the Crusaders edging a thriller 30-27.

There was plenty of drama in Canberra, too, as the Sharks snatched a 27-22 victory thanks to Lukhanyo Am's try after the hooter.

It was the Brumbies who started better with 15 points in the opening half-an-hour but the South African side were within two by the break as the boot of Pat Lambie added to Tendai Mtawarira's try.

Lambie continued to be precise from the tee with three second-half penalties to move the Sharks seven clear, only for Tevita Kuridrani to cross for the hosts and Isaac Thompson to level things up at 22-all.

There was still one final twist, though, as the Sharks launched a late attack after the 80th minute, Am pouncing amid a defensive mistake to touch down and complete a remarkable victory.