Hamilton Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs held on for a 27-20 victory over the ever improving Sunwolves at Waikato Stadium on Saturday.
The result provisionally moves the Chiefs up to first place overall while the Sunwolves remain in 18th place.
The Chiefs were the first to score in the match but after Hika Elliot scored in the fourth minute the Sunwolves took control of the match.
Although the Sunwolves enjoyed as much as 73% of the possession in the opening quarter they could only score a penalty by Hayden Cripps.
By half time the Chiefs had crossed three times through tries from Eliott, Solomon Alaimalo and immediately before the break Damian McKenzie.
McKenzie missed the first two conversions but was successful with his third so the Hamilton side led 20-3 at the break.
The Sunwolves were the first to score in the second half after the japanese side dominated the Chiefs scrum which led to several penalties on the Chiefs 5m line.
Tanaka scored for the Sunwolves by placing the ball at the foot of the posts and Jamie-Jerry Taulagi converted as Hayden Cripps was injured in the build up to the try.
McKenzie went over for his second try at the start of the final quarter which put the Chiefs back in contention for the bonus point.
However the Sunwolves scored their second try through a brilliant Derek Carpenter break and a penalty pulled the Japanese side to within 7 points.
The Chiefs had a try ruled out for a knock on in the build up to a Shaun Stevenson try. In extra time the Sunwolves were shown a red and a yellow card which reduced the Japanese side to 13 players.
Despite the numbers advantage the Sunwolves prevented the Chiefs from getting the ball down behind the try-line which earned them a losing bonus point.
The Chiefs outscored the Sunwolves by four tries to two in the match so they failed to earn the bonus point from the contest.
Next week in the eleventh round the Chiefs host the Reds in New Plymouth while the Sunwolves ridiculous schedule continues as they fly to Argentina to play the Jaguares after a three match tour of New Zealand.
Final Score Chiefs 27 (20) Sunwolves 20 (3)
Tries – H.Elliot, S.Alaimalo, D.McKenzie 2
Pen – D.McKenzie
Con – D.McKenzie 2
Tries -F. Tanaka, D.Carpenter
Pen – H.Cripps, J.Taulagi
Con – J.Taulagi 2
Cards – D.Carpenter (yellow 83rd min), Jamie-Jerry Taulagi (red 83rd min)
Referee: Will Houston
Assistant Ref 1:Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 2:Richard Kelly
TMO : Ben Skeen
1. Kane Hames , 2. Hika Elliot , 3. Nepo Laulala, 4. Dominic Bird , 5. Taleni Seu , 6. Tom Sanders, 7. Mitchell Karpik , 8. Sam Cane , 9. Jonathan Taumateine, 10. Aaron Cruden (co-captain, 11. Sam McNicol , 12. Stephen Donald, 13. Anton Lienert-Brown , 14. Solomon Alaimalo, 15. Damian McKenzie
Replacements : 16. Brayden Mitchell , 17. Aidan Ross, 18. Sosefo Kautai , 19. Mitchell Brown , 20. Liam Messam , 21. Alex Nankivell, 22. Shaun Stevenson , 23. James Lowe
15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Teruya Goto, 13 William Tupou, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Yasutaka Sasakura, 10 Hayden Cripps, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Shunsuki Nunomaki, 6 Edward Quirk (captain), 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Shinya Makabe, 3 Heiichiro Ito, 2 Takeshi Kizu, 1 Keita Inagaki
Replacements : 16 Yusuke Niwai, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Uwe Helu, 20 Rahboni Warren Vosayaco, 21 Yuki Yatomi, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi