The Chiefs won their eleventh consecutive Super Rugby match against the Blues, thrashing the visitors 41-26, in a lop-sided game at FMG Stadium in Hamilton.
Man-of-the-match Aaron Cruden starred, scoring 11 points with the boot and setting the tone for his side’s second win in 2017.
The Chiefs led 22-9 at half time after flanker Steven Luatua was sent off for a dangerous tackle.
There was only six points between the sides before the red card but, the game was essentially over, once the Blues went to 14 men and the Chiefs scoring, either side of the break.
The second half was a rout, as the Chiefs scored four tries to three, to win with a bonus-point.
The Chiefs opened the scoring with a try from Liam Messam from a rolling maul but, three penalties from Blues first-five Ihaia West kept the visiting side ahead.
The Chiefs returned with a sensational try, started by Dominic Bird who offloaded to Tim Nanai-Williams who, in turn, found a gap in the Blues defence, setting up Damian McKenzie to cross the line.
The pivotal moment in the match came shortly before half as Tawera Kerr-Barlow almost go away from the Chiefs only to knock on as he moved to score the try.
Off the ball in that break Steven Luatua high-tackled Tim Nanai-Williams and was red carded for the dangerous offence reducing the visiting side to 14 players for the rest of the match.
From the resulting penalty the Chiefs went further ahead on the scoreboard with another driving maul and try Hika Elliot.
With Cruden’s conversion the Chiefs went in for the break leading 22-9.
The Chiefs extended their lead with try by Lachlan Boshier. Cruden converted Boshier’s try and minutes later was prevented from scoring a try.
Cruden set up the Chiefs fifth try with an offload to James Lowe which with the conversion put the Hamilton side a comfortable 27 points ahead.
The shellshocked Blues still playing with a man down could not keep up with a rampant Chiefs side who were moving the ball around the field with ease.
Anton Lienert-Brown scored the Chiefs sixth try which prompted the Blues to go to their power on the bench.
Returning All Black Jerome Kaino and Charlie Faumuina both scored tries from the line out for the Blues but the match had been lost already.
Rene Ranger scored the Blues third try which put the Chiefs bonus point under threat but the home side held on and Damien McKenzie booted the ball into touch as the siren sounded.
Next week in Round 3 the Chiefs are at home again and will host current Super Rugby champions the Hurricanes while the Blues host the Highlanders in Auckland.
The final score is Chiefs 41 (22) Blues 26 (9)
Tries – Messam, McKenzie, Elliot, Boshier, Lowe, Lienert-Brown
Pen – Cruden
Con – Cruden (4)
Tries – Tuipulotu, Faumuina, Ranger
Pen – West (3)
Con – West
Cards – Luatua (Red, 40th minute)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1:Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 2:Glen Jackson
TMO : Ben Skeen
1. Kane Hames (10), 2. Hika Elliot (105), 3. Nepo Laulala (1), 4. Dominic Bird (12), 5. Brodie Retallick (72), 6. Liam Messam (147), 7. Lachlan Boshier (9), 8. Michael Leitch (23), 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (68), 10. Aaron Cruden (captain) (74), 11. James Lowe (38), 12. Johnny Faauli (1), 13. Anton Lienert-Brown (25), 14. Tim Nanai-Williams (78), 15. Damian McKenzie (34).
Replacements: 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho (1), 17. Siegfried Fisi’ihoi (12), 18. Atu Moli (12), 19. Taleni Seu (19), 20. Tom Sanders (15), 21. Jonathan Taumateine (1), 22. Toni Pulu (14), 23. Shaun Stevenson (8).
* Chiefs caps in brackets
1. Pauliasi Manu, 2. Matt Moulds, 3. Sione Mafileo, 4. Jimmy Tupou (C), 5. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 6. Steven Luatua, 7. Blake Gibson, 8. Akira Ioane; 9. Augustine Pulu, 10. Ihaia West, 11. Melani Nanai, 12. Piers Francis, 13. Rieko Ioane, 14. Matt Duffie, 15. Michael Collins.
Replacements: 16. Hame Faiva, 17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18. Charlie Faumuina, 19. Patrick Tuipulotu, 20. Jerome Kaino, 21. Billy Guyton, 22.George Moala, 23. Rene Ranger.