The Chiefs stormed back to the top of the Super Rugby table thanks to an impressive 33-14 win over the Hurricanes on Saturday.
The Chiefs stormed back to the top of the Super Rugby standings thanks to an impressive 33-14 win over the Hurricanes on Saturday.
It was the Kiwi outfit's eighth win on the trot, as the hosts outscored the 'Canes three tries to one in an entertaining spectacle at Hamilton's Waikato Stadium.
After returning home from a successful tour, the Chiefs showed no signs of travel fatigue and instead sent out a strong statement that they are the team to beat in 2012.
When the Hurricanes got their hands on the the ball, both sides were full of running. However, it was the Chiefs who dominated most of the possession, forcing the Hurricanes defensive line to work overtime and the penalties against them inevitably mounted.
Four penalties from fly-half Aaron Cruden – laser-sharp all night – gave the Chiefs a 12-3 lead, with opposite number Beauden Barrett replying with a three-pointer of his own as the half-hour mark neared.
And it was the visitors who had the last laugh in the first half, thanks to a superb solo try by Andre Taylor who scythed through the Chiefs' midfield, sold half a dummy and jinked through for his seventh try of the season.
The Hurricanes almost scored again two minutes later but left wing Julian Savea was tackled into touch just before the line. But at 12-8, the men from the New Zealand capital were back in it.
However, the Chiefs regained the ascendancy early in the second half with a try from livewire wing Lelia Masaga who took a Brendon Leonard pass from a scrum at pace to race in for a try under the sticks.
Cruden added the extras, and the Chiefs could breathe a little easier (19-8).
The 'Canes weren't prepared to roll over so easily though and Barrett clawed six points back with two penalties to give the visitors a glimmer of hope with a quarter of the match remaining.
That was as close as the Hurricanes got, though, with Sona Taumalolo notching a try – his seventh of the season – in the 65th minute, followed by fellow prop Smith also crossing with four minutes remaining to put the match beyond doubt. Much to the satisfaction of the 22,000-strong home fans
Tries: Masaga, Taumalolo, Smith
Cons: Cruden 3
Pens: Cruden 4
Pens: Barrett 3
Chiefs: 15 Andrew Horrell, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Tim Nanai Williams, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Alex Bradley, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (c), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliott, 1 Arizona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Asaeli Tikoirotuma.
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben May.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Reg Goodes, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Jack Lam, 20 Chris Eaton, 21 Charlie Ngatai, 22 Alapati Leiua.
Referee: Jonathon White (New Zealand)