The Chiefs bounced back from their opening round defeat to beat the Blues 29-14 in miserable conditions at Waikato Stadium.
The injury-ravaged Chiefs bounced back from their opening round defeat to beat the Blues 29-14 in miserable conditions at Waikato Stadium on Friday.
With the rain bucketing down in Hamilton, the slippery ball and greasy conditions were expected to make handling tricky.
This was indeed the case for the Blues, who failed miserably to adapt in the wet. However, the same couldn't be said of the Chiefs as the hosts defied the traditional rules of meteorology and poor ball-handling.
The Chiefs' immaculate play with ball in hand was achieved amid a back-drop of bell-ringing hits and exhilarating spreads that tested the fingertip grips to the limit.
The hosts produced a near-perfect first half and were singing in the wet as Dave Rennie's troops bagged their four-try bonus point before the break, with fly-half Aaron Cruden putting in a superb goal-kicking display.
The writing was on the wall for the Blues as early as the fourth minute when Chiefs prop Sona Taumalolo powered his way over in the corner to open the scoring for his team. Cruden added the extras from the sideline and a penalty just two minutes later that gave the Chiefs a handy 10-0 lead.
Blues pivot Michael Hobbs replied with two penalties to close the gap slightly, but any thoughts of clawing their way back into the game were quickly evaporated when Chiefs full-back Robbie Robinson burst clear to put wing Asaeli Tikoirotuma over in the corner. Once again, Cruden was spot-on with the conversion.
Five minutes later, the Chiefs struck again with two quickfire tries that effectively ended the game as a contest. First scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow exposed some sloppy Blues defence after weaving his way over the whitewash, before wing Tim Nanai-Williams touched down for the all-important bonus point – again set up by the impressive Robinson.
The dominant display saw the Chiefs leading 29-6 at half-time, which left the Blues with a mountain to climb in the second half.
They did a bit better after the break, adding another penalty as well as a consolation try by replacement Sherwin Stowers two minutes from full-time and managed to keep the Chiefs scoreless… but the damage was already done.
Tries: Taumalolo, Tikoirotuma, Kerr-Barlow, Nanai-Williams
Cons: Cruden 3
Pens: Hobbs 2
Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Tim Nanai-Williams, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tanerau Latimer 6 Liam Messam (c), 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger , 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Shane Cleaver, 18 Fritz Lee, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Declan O'Donnell.
Blues: 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 David Raikuna, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Michael Hobbs, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Chris Lowrey, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 Tevita Mailau, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Tom McCartney.
Replacements: 16 Pauliasi Manu, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Brad Mika, 19 Luke Braid, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Gareth Anscombe, 22 Sherwin Stowers.
Referee: Keith Brown