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Chiefs earn back to back wins over Highlanders

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Hamilton’s Chiefs have earned back to back wins over the Highlanders by beating the Dunedin side 27-22 at the FMG Stadium in Waikato.

The result moves the Chiefs provisionally to the top of the New Zealand Super Rugby conference although they could be overtaken later this round as the Hurricanes and Crusaders have matches to play this round.

In their last meeting the Chiefs beat the Highlanders 24-15 which ended a six match losing streak that started in June 2014.

The Highlanders suffered an early blow in the match as Lima Sopoaga succumbed to what appeared to be an achilles injury in the second minute.

Both teams scored three tries each and the difference came down to kicking with Damien McKenzie kicking three conversions and two penalties.

Highlanders Replacement pivot Fletcher Smith booted two conversions and a penalty.

The Highlanders earn a losing bonus point from the match which keeps them provisionally in sixth place overall.

The Chiefs dominated for most of the match but in the second half the Highlanders took the lead and the Chiefs had to find a way to come from behind.

The Highlanders scored the first try of the match at the start of the second quarter when Waisake Naholo crossed in the corner.

Smith’s conversion edged the Highlanders into a one point lead after McKenzie had kicked two early penalties for the Chiefs.

As the half time break neared McKenzie chipped the ball to the wing where Toni Pulu gathered the ball and offloaded to Solomon Alaimalo who scored the Chiefs opening try.

McKenzie added the conversion which put the Chiefs into a 13-7 lead at the break.

The Chiefs started well in the second half and after McKenzie got his side up to the Highlanders 5m line with another of his trademark line breaks the hosts recycled and All Black hooker Nathan Harris powered over the line.

The Highlanders fought their way back into the contest when Aaron Smith spotted an open Tevita Li in the corner and drifted a pass outwide for the winger to score.

A rare clearing kick error and rebound by McKenzie led to the Highlanders taking the lead when Sio Tomkinson scored for the Highlander and Smith added the conversion.

The Chiefs though took the lead back from the Highlanders with just over 10 minutes remaining when the hosts strung together 11 phases allowing Sean Wainui to score in the corner.

McKenzie slotted the conversion which put the Chiefs into a five point lead which they held on to until the end.

The match was a special occasion for captain Sam Cane as he earned his 100th Super rugby cap and led his side to victory.

Next week in the eight round the Chiefs host the Blues in Hamilton while the Highlanders have a bye before they host the Brumbies in Dunedin in Round 9.

Final Score Chiefs 27 (13) Highlanders 22 (7)

Scorers

Chiefs
Tries -S. Alaimalo, N.Harris, S. Wainui
Pen – D.McKenzie 2
Con -D.Mckenzie 3
Drop –
Cards –

Highlanders
Tries – W.Naholo, T.Li, P.Tomkinson
Pen – F.Smith
Con – F.Smith 2
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1:Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2:Brendan Pickerill
TMO : Glenn Newman

Teams

Chiefs

1. Aidan Ross , 2. Nathan Harris, 3. Angus Ta’avao , 4. Brodie Retallick, 5. Tyler Ardron , 6. Liam Messam, 7. Sam Cane(c), 8. Taleni Seu , 9. Brad Weber , 10. Damian McKenzie, 11. Sean Wainui , 12. Johnny Faauli , 13. Anton Lienert-Brown, 14. Toni Pulu, 15. Solomon Alaimalo,

Replacments : 16. Liam Polwart , 17. Karl Tu’inukuafe , 18. Jeff Thwaites, 19. Pita Gus Sowakula *, 20. Lachlan Boshier , 21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi , 22. Marty McKenzie , 23. Charlie Ngatai

Highlanders

1. Daniel Lienert-Brown,2. Ash Dixon (cc),3. Siate Tokolahi,4. Jackson Hemopo,5.Josh Dickson,6. Elliot Dixon,7. Dillon Hunt,8. Luke Whitelock,9. Aaron Smith,10. Lima Sopoaga,11. Tevita Li,12. Rob Thompson,13. Matt Faddes,14. Waisake Naholo,15. Ben Smith (cc)

Replacements : 16. Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17. Aki Seiuli, 18. Tyrel Lomax, 19. Tom Franklin, 20. Shannon Frizell, 21. Josh Renton, 22. Fletcher Smith, 23. Patelsio Tomkinson

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