The Chiefs opened up a seven-point lead atop the New Zealand conference on Friday after edging the Hurricanes 17-12 in Wellington.
The Chiefs opened up a seven-point lead atop the New Zealand conference on Friday after beating the Hurricanes 17-12 at a slippery Westpac Stadium.
Conditions were not complimentary to expansive rugby and the holders from Waikato were the side that best adapted to secure a streetwise victory.
Only one try was scored in the contest and it came via flank Tanerau Latimer following a rare mistake from TJ Perenara, which was a good indication of just how few chances were created by the sides.
In the end though it was a deserved victory for the champions as players such as Ben Afeaki laid the foundations to leave the 'Canes some way off the pace-setters as they go into a welcome bye week.
The personal battle between All Black fly-halves Beauden Barrett and Aaron Cruden, however, was arguably won by the former, who was impressive with both ball in hand and via his territorial game.
But in the end that lapse in concentration from Perenara which led to Latimer's try was ultimately the difference as the Chiefs made it nine wins from thirteen matches so far this season.
The Hurricanes meanwhile are now fourteen points off Dave Rennie's outfit, but will be warmed by the fact they get four points before returning on May 31 at the Brumbies.
As mentioned, the game was not high in scoring opportunities as Cruden and Barrett traded penalty shots in the first half, the Chiefs going in at the half-time break 12-9 to the good.
And when Latimer crossed in the 53rd minute for an unconverted try that made it 17-9, it was always going to be an uphill task for the 'Canes, who struggled to get Julian Savea involved.
Barrett then landed a 69th minute penalty following an infringement for which replacement Ben Tameifuna was sin-binned. That cut the lead to five points but, though down to fourteen men, the Chiefs defended stoutly for the remainder of the match.
They were helped by the fact that, with the Tameifuna off the field, the match reverted to uncontested scrums and that prevented the Hurricanes applying pressure at the set-piece.
Pen: Barrett 4
Pen: Cruden 4
Yellow: Tameifuna (70 mins)
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 (c), 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Ben Tameifuna, 18 Mike Fitzgerald, 19 Nick Crosswell, 20 August 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)
Television match official: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)