The Chiefs firmed their grip on the New Zealand conference on Friday with a 32-20 win over the Blues at Yarrow Stadium.
The Chiefs firmed their grip on the New Zealand Super Rugby conference on Friday with a bonus-point 32-20 win over the Blues at Yarrow Stadium.
In an entertaining clash, the defending champions put on an impressive display, outscoring their visitors four tries to two, including a double for rampaging prop Ben Tameifuna.
The result means the Chiefs provisionally move level with the Sharks (who face the Brumbies on Saturday) at the top of the overall standings while the Blues extend their winless streak on the road that stretches back to February last year.
Once again the Chiefs' counter-attacking brilliance proved the difference between the sides. The Blues enjoyed over 60 per cent of both territory and possession but the Chiefs scored two fantastic tries from inside their own half to underline their status as the most dangerous attacking side in the competition.
The Chiefs were 20-13 up at the interval thanks to tries from Tameifuna and Nanai-William. The Blues had taken the early lead via a Lolagi Visinia try created by Ma'a Nonu.
It was still anyone's game going into the second half but two quick tries shortly after the break – from Tameifuna and Tom Marshall, who was set up by a break from Nanai-Williams – essentially wrapped up the result for the Chiefs.
The Blues pulled a try back just after the hour mark via George Moala – while Nanai-Williams was in the sin-bin for a ruck infringement – and pushed hard for another that would have saved a losing bonus point but the Chiefs were outstanding on defence and kept the visitors at bay.
The defeat keeps the Auckland franchise bottom of the conference and was compounded by injury to All blacks full-back Charles Piutau, who left the field midway through the first half with a knee injury.
Tries: Tameifuna 2, Nanai-Williams, Marshall
Cons: Anscombe 3
Pens: Anscombe 2
Yellow card: Nanai-Williams
Tries: Visinia, Moala
Cons: Hickey, West
Pens: Hickey 2
Chiefs: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Dwayne Sweeney, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Tanerau Latimer, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Matt Symons, 20 Liam Squire, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Andrew Horrell, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 George Moala, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Lolagi Visinia, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Kane Barrett, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Pita Ahki.
Venue: Yarrow Stadium, Taranaki
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)