Friday’s Super Rugby action starts in Hamilton where the Chiefs host Auckland’s Blues in an all New Zealand derby match.
The Chiefs have won each of their last 10 games against the Blues, although seven of those fixtures were decided by fewer than 10 points. The last five games, by a margin, of between three and eight points.
Blues will be looking to end one of the longer losing streaks in their Super Rugby franchise history.
Rieko Ioane will be looking to add to round one’s superb hat-trick performance.
The weather is 19 degrees with a slight breeze
We are waiting for the kick off.
Aaron Cruden leads the Chiefs out.
BEEP! Ihaia West gets us underway.
1.00: PENALTY. West kicks to the corner and Blues set up a driving maul from the line-out.
3.00: Another PENALTY to the visitors. this time West points to the polls. It’s good, 3-0.
5.00: After a series of PENALTIES, Cruden kicks to the corner.
6.00. TRY! Chiefs set up a driving maul and roll over for the score. It’s Liam Messam who is credited with the five-pointer.
7.00: Cruden’s conversion is wide.
9.00: Blues kick deep and Chiefs concede another PENALTY. West lines up the kick.
10.00: The kick is good and Blues regain the lead in what is already, a game full of ill-discipline.
11.00: Cruden switches the restart for the second time. Blues take the ball from deep in their half and are on the attack inside Chiefs’ territory. Still no scrum yet.
13.00: Nothing comes of the attack. Chiefs 22 drop out, Blues knock-on. First scrum of the game.
15.00: The scrum is reset twice. Eventually, the referee Ben O’Keeffe, loses patience and blows the Chiefs for angled scrumming by Kane Hames. West for a shot.
17.00: West’s kick is good. That’s 3 from 3 by the five-eight.
20.00: chiefs restart and have a line-out inside Blues territory. They look to build through the phases. Something is on here…
21.00: TRY! CHIEFS! WOW! Dominic Bird puts Tim Nanai-Williams through a little gap, the wing draws his man and pops to Cruden who sends the ball wide and it’s Damien McKenzie for the score in the corner. Sensational try. Cruden adds the extras.
23:00: Boy that was some try. Blues restart and Chiefs go again.
25.00: Scrum Chiefs. PENALTY. Kane Hames gets one back on Nepo Laulala for angled scrumming. The tighthead stands up. Cruden looks for the kicking tee.
27.00: Cruden makes no mistake. Chiefs extend their lead to six points.
30.oo: Half an hour played. The game is hotting up. Chiefs have a scrum in their half.
31.00: Chiefs lose the ball on the attack, Augustine Pulu picks up the loose ball and kicks deep. Their’s a knock-on.
32.00: Blues win a PENALTY. West points to the posts.
33.00: West’s kick is up… and it hits the WOODWORK. Damien McKenzie clears his lines.
36.oo: Game has become a bit scrappy – the curse of the early season games?
36.00: PENALTY to the Blues. West points to the posts.
37.oo: It’s wide.
39.00: Chiefs are on the attack inside Blues territory. Cruden runs straight and takes a tackle. Chiefs recycle and go around the fringe.
40.00: Chiefs make a break and after nine phases, Tawera Kerr-Barlow makes a break and the Chiefs look to have scored under the posts.
40.00: Ref goes to the TMO for a dangerous tackle off the ball. They are also looking to see if the try is scored by the No 9.
40.17: NO TRY! Melani Nanai saves the day and knocks the ball out of Kerr-Barlow’s hands.
40.17: RED CARD! OH BOY. Steven Luatua is sent off for a dangerous tackle – “intent and force” says the ref. The new directives in play. Chiefs kick to the corner.
41.00: TRY CHIEFS! From the line-out the home team set up a driving maul. The back of the maul breaks to the near-side touch-line and Hika Elliot is the man to dot down. Cruden’s conversion is good.
Half time Chiefs 22 Blues 9
The game has swung in favour of the Chiefs in a double blow before the break. Luatua’s red card and Elliot’s try after the hooter, might have finished this game as a contest.
BEEP! We are back underway.
41.00: TRY! Chiefs look to have scored. Ben O’Keeffe is asking TMO Ben Skeen if there is a knock-on in the build-up to the try.
41.00: NO TRY! There was no knock-on but a forward pass from Johnny Faauli in the build-up. Scrum Chiefs.
43.00: TRY! The Chiefs with a big scrum and from the back of the ruck, Lachlan Boshier with a pick-and-go, and he’s driven over by his forwards. Cruden from the corner with the conversion.
45.00: The ball being kicked back and forth before McKenzie kicks into touch around the 22 of the Blues.
47.00: TRY CHIEFS! This game is over. From the line-out the home team put the ball through the hands, Cruden with a pass to James Lowe, who beats his man to score. Cruden slots the two points.
50.00: Chiefs have a scrum inside their half. They look like they will score every time they touch the ball.
51.00: Blues empty the bench as four players come on. Blues have the ball and are deep into chiefs territory.
52.00: Melani Nanai darts for the try-line but is stopped. George Moala has a crack but is tackled into touch. chiefs have the line-out on their five metre line.
53.00: Chiefs break but Duffie gets it after the throw and punts it out field. Chiefs with a quick throw and they go again.
55.00: TRY! Anton Lienert-Brown scores after some great inter-play between Damian McKenzie, James Lowe and Tim Nanai-Williams.
56.00: Cruden misses his second kick of the evening but it is inconsequential. This is turning into a horror show for the Blues.
60.00: Blues have an attacking line-out.
60.00: TRY! Blues score. Patrick Tuipulotu with a powerful leg-drive from the break-up of the driving maul.
61.00: West can’t add the two points.
63.00: Chiefs come again but Johnny Faauli drops the ball and, in disgust, boots the ball out of the ground, almost. Blues scrum.
64.00: Chiefs are penalised for taking out Augustine Pulu at the ruck. West kicks deep and the Blues have a five-metre line-out.
65.00: TRY! Blues set-up the maul. Pulu breaks blind and passes to the on-running Charlie Faumuina, who feints a pass, steps inside and scores. WOW! Crazy skill from the big man.
66.00: West adds the extras and Cruden gets a standing ovation as he leaves the field.
68.00: The game is winding down now. Blues playing for pride and to deny the Chiefs a bonus-point.
71.00: Blues are nine phases with the ball and on the Chiefs goal line.
73.00: TRY! Rene Ranger runs over a defender from close range. All three tries have come from the bench.
74.00: West can’t convert.
77.00: chiefs on the attack but Blues turn the ball over and go in search of another score to deny the Chiefs’ a bonus-point.
80.00: That’s it from Hamilton as the Chiefs run out easy winners in what was a lop-sided second half.
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, Rnager
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.