Chiefs get bonus-point winning start
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Chiefs recorded a 24-15 bonus-point win over the Highlanders to get their 2017 season underway in perfect fashion.
The Chiefs made the error-prone Highlanders pay dearly, outscoring them by three tries to none - the first two tries both came from opposition mistakes.
The Chiefs result means the Chiefs ending a six-game losing streak against their New Zealand rivals - dating back to 2014.
"It was a really polished team performance," captain Aaron Cruden said.
The Highlanders drew first blood with a Lima Sopoaga try but then conceded two easy tries off loose balls, both to Chiefs' wing James Lowe.
The first came when Malakai Fekitoa tried a spectacular back pass to get out of trouble, then Lowe swooped on the ball and evaded a tackler before dotting between the posts.
Waisake Naholo then gifted Lowe another, sending the ball straight to the wing, who gratefully darted down the sideline for another five-pointer.
After going into the break 14-9 up , the Chiefs extended their lead by a converted try when Hika Elliot made a cheeky run from a line-out to again embarrass the Highlanders' defence.
The Highlanders managed some penalties from there, but it was a lost cause.
Man of the match: As you have come to expect, Damian McKenzie showed his brilliance in bucketloads. However, our award goes to the Chiefs' Al Black lock Brodie Retallick - who showed an amazing workrate, more evidence as to why he is rated as the premier second row forward in the world.
For the Highlanders:
Pens: Sopoaga 5
For the Chiefs:
Tries: Lowe 2, Elliot
Cons: Cruden 3
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Liam Squire, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Smith, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Guy Millar, 19 Jackson Hemopo, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Matt Faddes.
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Johnny Faauli, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Mitchell Karpik, 6 Taleni Seu, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Tuake'iaho, 17 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Mitchell Brown, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Tim Nanai-Williams, 23 Shaun Stevenson.
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)