Chiefs outmuscle 'Canes in the rain
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Chiefs climbed to the top of the combined Super Rugby Standings with a 26-18 win over the Hurricanes in Hamilton on Friday.
After scoring 24 tries and amassing 154 points in their opening two matches against the Sunwolves and Melbourne Rebels, the Hurricanes struggled in a hard-fought New Zealand derby.
With torrential rain making conditions difficult at Hamilton's Waikato Stadium, the Hurricanes were outplayed and displayed poor discipline, earning two yellow cards.
Each side scored two tries but both of the Hurricanes' efforts came late and served only to add respectability to the scoreline.
The match featured ferocious tackling and plenty of off-the-ball niggle as the competition's two form teams went toe-to-toe for bragging rights in the New Zealand conference.
But the Chiefs, who had to work hard for their wins over the Highlanders and Blues, proved more battle-hardened in defence.
Damian McKenzie's boot also proved a decisive factor as he kicked four penalties and two conversions for the Chiefs.
Early opportunities were rare in the driving rain, with the Hurricanes up by a single penalty at the 15-minute mark.
The Chiefs then laid siege to the Hurricanes' line, with the Wellington side committing three penalties before referee Brendon Pickerill lost patience and sent Ardie Savea to the sin bin.
The one-man advantage allowed the Chiefs to break through for the opening try as Brodie Retallick barged over the line.
Savea was just about to end his spell on the sideline when lock Michael Fatialofa became the second Hurricane shown a yellow card after a shoulder charge on Nepo Laulala.
The Hurricanes managed to fend off the Chiefs until he returned, but the Chiefs then struck through winger Toni Pulu just before half-time.
Pulu outpaced three defenders as he chased down Tawera Kerr-Barlow's perfectly weighted chip kick, then dived and skidded along the wet grass to ground the ball and send the Chiefs into the break up 17-6.
The Hurricanes finally sparked into life in the 65th minute, when TJ Perenara burst from the back of a driving maul and somehow managed to get his outstretched arm through the defence for a try.
They continued to press but a Damian McKenzie penalty with five minutes on the clock sealed the result for the Hurricanes, despite a consolation try to Julian Savea.
In a final disappointment for the Hurricanes, McKenzie kicked a penalty after the siren to stretch the winning margin to eight and deny them a bonus point.
Man of the match: Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Brodie Retallick had strong games for the home side. However, the award goes to fullback Damian McKenzie for a brilliant all-round performance.
Tries: Retallick, Pulu
Cons: McKenzie 2
Pens: Mckenzie 4
Tries: Perenara, J Savea
Con: B Barrett
Pens: B Barrett 2
Yellow cards: Ardie Savea (Hurricanes, 18 - repeated infringements at the maul); Michael Fatialofa (Hurricanes, 27 - foul play, shoulder charge); Michael Leitch (Chiefs. 77 - dangerous play- high tackle)
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Sabastian Siataga, 17 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Stephen Donald, 23 Shaun Stevenson.
Hurricanes: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Vince Aso, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Reed Prinsep, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Loni Uhila.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Ben May, 19 James Blackwell, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Otere Black, 23 Jordie Barrett.
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), James Doleman (New Zealand)
TMO: Glen Newman (New Zealand)
AFP & @rugby365com