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Chiefs survive Hurricanes’ storm surge

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The Chiefs weathered a late Hurricanes fightback to win their third New Zealand derby 26-18 and go top of their division at FMG Stadium in Waikato.

The game was played in a torrential downpour that started about an hour before kick-off. The final scoreline might appear to represent a close fought contest but, it was not. Appearances can be deceiving.

This game was tight at the death. It was only a final minute score that brought this game into doubt but, the overall dominance on attack and in much of the forward display, the Chiefs reigned supreme.

Vincent Van Gogh understood that “there is peace in the storm”. However, he could not have had the slightly ill-tempered, ill-disciplined, New Zealand Super Rugby derby in mind. Peace came at the final whistle.

It might not be post-impressionism, but the Chiefs certainly made an impression on the rest of the field, sweeping the defending champions in a deluge of rugby artistry.

Julian Savea’s last-gasp try was not enough as the home team won their third New Zealand derby of the season, downing the defending champions two tries apiece.

Tries from Brodie Retallick and Toni Pulu gave the Chiefs an 11 point halftime lead in a first-half which saw two yellow cards for the visitors and the tries coming soon after.

Damian McKenzie was perfect with the boot, kicking 16 points as the Chiefs held out to go top of their conference.

The Chiefs weathered a late Hurricanes fightback to win their third New Zealand derby 26-18 and go top of their division at FMG Stadium in Waikato.

The game was played in a torrential downpour that started about an hour before kick-off.

The teams shared a brace of tries either side of the break but it was ill-discipline that settled this game.

Two yellow cards for Ardie Savea and Michael Fatialofa swung the game in the Chiefs’ favour. Each time, they capitalised on the numerical advantage, scoring after the sin-binning.

Damian McKenzie was perfect with the boot, kicking 16 points, which ultimately, proved the difference.

Julian Savea’s late score and Barrett’s conversion, made it a five-point ball game but it was too little, too late.

It was not to be for the defending champions as McKenzie settled the match with his fourth penalty, on the hooter, to seal an eight-point victory to keep the Chiefs record at 100 percent.

The Chiefs had the better of the opening exchanges but it was Barrett, who opened the scoring, with a penalty on 13 minutes.

Depsite the poor weather, both teams’ excellent handling, showed why they are two of the favourites for the title.

The Chiefs spent most of the half on the front foot and dominated terratory. A half time statistic showed the hosts had spent nearly three minutes inside the Hurricanes’ 22, to only 13 seconds, by the champions.

You will struggle to win tight games in the wet with that sort of attacking dearth.

Multiple infringements by the Hurricanes eventually told. Savea felt the wrath of referee Brendon Pickerill and was sent to the bin.

The Chiefs’ pressure intensified as the vistors clung on. The Hurricanes scrum got a good shove on their opponents but, Michael Leitch picked up from the base of the backward moving scrum and broke to the blindside.

He was tackled short but it was Retallick’s turn to pick-and-go from the ruck, powering over to score.

McKenzie’s conversion made it 7-3 after the first quarter. Barrett and the fullback traded penalties before Fatialofa’s yellow card reduced the Canes to 13 men; they were duely punished.

A poor clearance from a free-kick mark gave the Chiefs good field position just before halftime.

Tawera Kerr-Barlow’s kick, after a blindside break from the maul, was latched onto by Pulu. The winger beat two defenders, collected the rolling ball and dotted down.

It took a TMO referral to award the try. McKenzie added the extras and the home team took a 17-6 lead into the break.

The game was breaking up as the conditions under foot gave way; the scrums could not get steady and handling errors crept in as the Hurricanes chased the game. McKenzie kicked his third penalty to extend the lead to 14 points.

The Chiefs led 20-6 going into the third quarter, making it three games without conceding a try inside the game’s opening hour.

However, their resistance was broken. TJ Perenara’s 65th try put paid to that, scoring from a rolling maul from five metres out. Barrett missed but the Canes had momentum going into the final 10 minutes.

The comeback was on when No 8 Michael Leitch was yellow-carded. The “BUS” Julian Savea, barged over and Barrett kicked a touchline conversion to bring the scores to 23-18 with a minute to play.

there was no great comeback for the Hurricanes. McKenzie kicked a penalty after the siren to stretch the winning margin to eight and deny them a losing bonus point.

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Final score Chiefs 26 (17) Hurricanes 18 (6)

Scorers

Chiefs
Tries – Retallick, Pulu
Pen – McKenzie (4)
Con – McKenzie (2)
Drop –
Cards – Leitch (Yellow, 79th minute)

Hurricanes
Tries – Perenara, Savea
Pen – Barrett (2)
Con – Barrett
Drop –
Cards –  Savea (Yellow, 19th minute), Fatialofa(Yellow, 27th minute)

Match Officials
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 1: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 2: James Doleman
TMO: Glenn Newman

Teams

Chiefs

1. Kane Hames (11), 2. Hika Elliot (106), 3. Nepo Laulala (2), 4. Dominic Bird (13), 5. Brodie Retallick (73), 6. Mitchell Brown (4), 7. Sam Cane (co-captain) (82), 8. Michael Leitch (24), 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (69), 10. Aaron Cruden (co-captain) (75), 11. James Lowe (39), 12. Anton Lienert-Brown (26), 13. Tim Nanai-Williams (79), 14. Toni Pulu (15), 15. Damian McKenzie (35)

Replacements:16. Sebastian Siataga**, 17. Siegfried Fisi’ihoi (13), 18. Atu Moli (13), 19. Taleni Seu (20), 20. Lachlan Boshier (10), 21. Jonathan Taumateine (2), 22. Stephen Donald (91), 23. Shaun Stevenson (9)

() = Chiefs caps in brackets
**denotes Super Rugby debut

Hurricanes

15. Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14. Vince Aso, 13. Matt Proctor, 12. Ngani Laumape, 11. Julian Savea, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. TJ Perenara, 8. Reed Prinsep, 7. Ardie Savea, 6. Brad Shields, 5. Michael Fatialofa, 4. Mark Abbott, 3. Jeffery To’omaga-Allen, 2. Dane Coles (captain), 1. Loni Uhila.

Replacements: 16. Ricky Riccitelli, 17. Chris Eves, 18. Ben May, 19. James Blackwell, 20. Callum Gibbins, 21. Chris Smylie, 22. Otere Black, 23. Jordie Barrett.

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