The Chiefs defeated the Hurricanes 14-17 at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, with both teams scoring two tries.
Damian McKenzie’s boot was the difference, as the Waikato side keep their playoff hopes alive in the Australasian Group standings. This is the first loss at home for the Hurricanes.
This tight, tense New Zealand derby was broken open in the 65th minute after James Lowe finished off a wonderful break and side-step by Shaun Stevenson, who replaced the injured Aaron Cruden at half-time.
Moments earlier, Michael Allardice was sent to the sin-bin for a late cleanout at the breakdown. But, it was the visitors who seemed to have the extra man.
McKenzie kicked a 75th-minute penalty to give his side a two-score lead before the Barrett brothers combined to send Wes Goosen away for a try, two minutes from time.
The first-half was level after a try a piece by Vaea Fifita, in the sixth minute and Aaron Cruden in the 26th. However, the late drama saw the Chiefs earn an important victory.
The Hurricanes are still second in the Australasian Group standings after claiming a losing bonus-point.
It was the home team who drew first blood when Fifita scored after Vince Aso’s break. The Hurricanes set up some quick ball at the ruck, James Lowe missed the intercept and the lock crashed over near the corner.
Jordie Barrett added the conversion to give his side the early seven-point advantage.
The tight battle was intense. Ardie Savea was instrumental in everything good the Canes did; the No 8 made two line breaks as well as putting in some big hits and wonderful offloads.
The scrum battle was fierce; both teams being bulldozed in the first-half on their own ball. With the rain starting to fall, points would be at a premium and errors would prove costly.
On 24 minutes, the Chiefs crossed the whitewash to level the scores. The try came from a poor clearance by Beauden Barrett.
Solomon Alaimalo gathered and started the move, threw an inside ball which was sent to Cruden who charged over the goal-line. The first-five eight’s try was converted by McKenzie.
Five minutes later, Vince Aso saved the day for his team with a try-saving tackle on Cruden. The World Cup-winner injured his knee and was replaced at the break by Stevenson.
The Hurricanes had a chance of their own, late in the first-half. TJ Perenara made a break through the Chiefs’ defensive line, he tried to offload to Chris Eves, but the prop lost the ball forward with the try-line at his mercy.
At the start of the second-half, Cruden was replaced by Stevenson, who moved to the wing. Lowe moved to fullback and McKenzie took over at stand-off.
The first quarter after the restart was an arm wrestle as the Kiwis fought for possession and territory in the slippery conditions.
The game turned on the hour mark after Allardice was yellow carded. Within minutes, the Chiefs, under some pressure, won a scrum feed from a knock on.
From the first-phase ball, they shifted wide to their left. Stevenson danced his way through some weak defending, raced from his 10 metres line to the Hurricanes’ 22, before sending Lowe away to score in the corner.
That was a sucker-punch from which the home team never recovered. McKenzie’s conversion, from near the sideline, bounced off the upright and in, to give his team a 7-14 lead with 15 minutes to play.
Despite the body blow, the Hurricanes still had all the possession and were camped inside the Chiefs half of the field. But, the errors kept on coming.
Somehow, the visitors made their way up the field and won a penalty after an infringement at the breakdown. It came from Jordie Barrett trying to run his team out of
It came from Jordie Barrett trying to run his team out of trouble but ended with McKenzie kicking a straightforward penalty to extend his team’s lead to 10 points and two scores.
However, the defending champions hit back immediately. The home team played quickly from a lineout, the ball was sent through the hands to Jordie Barrett, collecting his brother’s pass, before sending Goosen over in the corner.
From the corner, the younger Barrett slotted the conversion to make it a three-point ball game with less than two minutes to play.
It was not to be, as the Chiefs held on for an important away victory in a thrilling Kiwi derby.
Final Score: Hurricanes 14 (7) Chiefs 17 (7)
Tries – Fifita, Goosen
Con – J. Barrett (2)
Tries – Cruden, Lowe
Pen – McKenzie
Con – McKenzie (2)
Cards – Allardice (Yellow, 60th minute)
Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 1: Richard Kelly
Assistant Ref 2: Cam Stone
TMO: Shane McDermott
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (captain), 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Vaea Fifita, 4 Sam Lousi, 3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2 Leni Apisai, 1 Chris Eves
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Loni Uhila, 18 Mike Kainga, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Matt Proctor, 23 Wes Goosen
15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Solomon Alaimalo, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden,9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Michael Allardice, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Kane Hames
Replacements: 16 Liam Polwart, 17 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Tom Sanders, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Alex Nankivell, 23 Shaun Stevenson