Fourteen-man Chiefs hold on
Fri, 17 May 2013 09:36
One try only in the wet
The Chiefs cemented their place at the top of the New Zealand conference with a hard-earned 17-12 win over the Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday.
Reduced to 14 men for the last 10 minutes of the match, after a professional foul by replacement prop Ben Tameifuna, the Chiefs held on to also go top of the global standings - at least for the next 24 hours.
Having scored the only try of the match, a charge down that saw Tanerau Latimer go over in the 56th minute, the Chiefs are now seven points clear of their nearest rival in the NZ conference.
The defending champions, the Chiefs, produced a mighty defensive effort to smother a Hurricanes fightback as both teams notched four penalties in a match where scoring opportunities were scarce.
"Any game against the Hurricanes is a tough local derby and the conditions added to that," captain Craig Clark said.
The Chiefs' first win in Wellington since 2001 puts them three points clear of the Brumbies, who can overtake them again with a victory in their match against the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.
It also extends their lead in the New Zealand conference, putting pressure on the Blues and Crusaders, who face off in Christchurch on Saturday.
The Hurricanes will now face an uphill struggle to make the play-off after posting six wins and six losses for the season.
Defence dominated a tight first half, with both sides opting to kick rather than run the ball in the rain.
The Chiefs went into the break up 12-9 after Aaron Cruden booted four penalties to Beauden Barrett's three.
Chiefs No.8 Matt Vant Leven came closest to a try in the 26th minute when he charged down a kick and took off for the tryline, only for Jason Eaton to drag him into touch with a desperate tackle just before he grounded the ball.
It was more of the same after the restart as the slippery ball forced mistakes from both sides, with the Hurricanes pressuring the Chiefs' but failing to make it count.
The Chiefs finally broke through against the run of play in the 56th minute when they charged down a ball and Tanerau Latimer charged over the line after Tawera Kerr-Barlow found him with a deft offload as he was being tackled.
The try galvanised the Hurricanes, who had the better of the latter stages and gained a one-man advantage after Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna was sin-binned for a ruck infringement.
They surprisingly opted to kick the resulting penalty instead of going for five points, narrowing the gap to 17-12 but still needing to cross the line for a win, with the Chiefs' defence proving up to the challenge.
Man of the match: Beauden Barrett managed to keep the Hurricanes in the game, with his boot, while Tawera Kerr-Barlow was the all-action star for the Chiefs - even managing a crucial steal late in the game. However, our award goes to Chiefs No.8 Matt Vant Leven - some strong carries, hard work at the breakdown and a crucial turnover.
For the Hurricanes:
Pens: Barrett 4
For the Chiefs:
Pens: Cruden 4
Yellow card: Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs, 71 - professional foul, playing the ball on the ground)
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Reynold Lee-Lo, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito (captain), 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben May, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Reggie Goodes, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Tusi Pisi, 22 James Marshall.
Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Matt Vant Leven, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (captain), 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Ben Tameifuna, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Nick Crosswell, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Dan Waenga, 22 Save Tokula.
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)
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