Planet Rugby

Chiefs make the play-offs

11th July 2014 10:18

Share:

Patrick Tuipulotu for the Blues against the Chiefs

Knocked out: The Blues

The Chiefs kept alive their hopes of winning three straight Super Rugby titles after they edged the Blues 11-8 to make the play-offs at Eden Park.

Dave Rennie's charges got the job done in the end as their experience of knockout rugby was evident as the Auckland outfit now bow out.

The hosts will wonder what might have been after a strong start but a pre-game task of winning by 38 points was always the stuff of dreams.

The Blues set their stall out early in miserable conditions as they snubbed three and instead looked for seven with the wind in their favour.

Steven Luatua went close with a carry before back-row colleague Jerome Kaino was denied a score after excellent work from Chiefs scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow saw him wrap his boot around the number eight to dislodge the ball out of the Blues man's grasp. It was a quite superb.

Remarkably the Chiefs held out the Blues for thirteen minutes in Auckland before they finally managed to escape their own 22, then looking up at the scoreboard for the early psychological fillip. On 21 minutes they could even have gone ahead but for Aaron Cruden's long-range kick dropping short due to the strong wind.

At this point the Blues had lost both Keven Mealamu and Lolagi Visinia to injury as James Parson and George Moala emerged, but their first sight of the game would be Cruden lining one up again after Francis Saili was offside, this time Cruden making no mistake for 3-0.

It should have been an eight-point lead soon after when Kerr-Barlow's break set up Tom Marshall with the line at his mercy. However, the full-back's attempted offload when he possibly could have used the conditions to slide went forward and the Blues survived. They would have to see out the final four minutes of the first-half with fourteen men when Ma'a Nonu was yellow carded for a no-arm tackle on Chiefs outside centre Tim Nanai-Williams.

The second-half saw a change in mindset from the Blues as a 41-point victory in the poor conditions was surely not even in their wildest dreams so West levelling after Messam was penalised and they could have been ahead but for a post denying the fly-half minutes later.

But then came the moment of the match which involved that man Messam again, this time intercepting West's pass on halfway before showing pace to get over. Cruden however left the door ajar for the Blues with a conversion miss leaving the score at 8-3 on 50 minutes.

Crucially for the Chiefs, Cruden was on-target with seventeen minutes left as he sent over a penalty from distance to leave the Blues two scores down. It was clear who were the champion team on show as the Chiefs had been savvy in defence while taking points.

However they would be made to sweat for their place in the play-offs when an eight, nine, wing move on the blindside saw Moala go over to set up a grandstand finish. West's tough kick hit the post so the hosts would need another try or two penalties to break Chiefs hearts.

But the Super Rugby holders held on and were deserving winners, with their streetwise style set to strike fear into their upcoming opponent next week. They cannot be written off.

The scorers:

For Blues:
Try: Moala
Pen: West

For Chiefs:
Try: Messam
Pen: Cruden 2

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Lolagi Visinia/George Moala, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Ihaia West, 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 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Peter Saili, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Jackson Willison, 23 George Moala/Albert Nikoro.

Chiefs: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (c), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Mike Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Nick Barrett, 19 Matt Symons, 20 Tevita Koloamatangi, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Dwayne Sweeney.

Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant referees: Nick Briant, Brendan Pickerill
TMO: Ben Skeen

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester vs Exeter19:45
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London Welsh14:00
London Irish vs Saracens15:00
Harlequins vs Wasps15:00
Bath vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs Northampton14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Munster vs Zebre19:30
Cardiff Blues vs Ulster19:35
Connacht vs Leinster19:35
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Glasgow14:40
Scarlets vs Benetton Treviso18:00
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs Edinburgh16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs Toulon18:00
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse18:00
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon18:00
Castres vs Oyonnax18:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:00
Montpellier vs Stade Francais18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 19
Lions vs Pumas19:10
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs Sharks17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Wednesday, September 17
Southland vs Tasman19:35
Thursday , September 18
Northland vs Taranaki19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
Southland 36 - 34 Northland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 12
Harlequins 0 - 39 SaracensHarlequins vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Benetton Treviso 10 - 21 MunsterBenetton Treviso vs Munster Report
Newport Gwent D'gons 15 - 17 Ospreys
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26