Hamilton’s Chiefs moved up to third place in the New Zealand Super Rugby conference by blowing the Highlanders away 22-45 at ANZ National Stadium in Suva, Fiji.
The Chiefs did the damage in the first half as they ran in six tries to none and went out to a 42 point lead while keeping the Highlanders scoreless.
In the second half the Highlanders outscored the Chiefs by 22 points to 3 but the damage had already been done.
The Chiefs first half onslaught started in the second minute when fullback Solomon Alaimalo found space in the centre of the field and with a turn of pace and with some clever footwork he dodged Tevita Li to score.
Damien McKenzie’s conversion was on target and that was how it remained for the match as he was successful with all six tries as well as a 70th minute penalty for a 100% kicking record from seven attempts.
Toni Pulu was next to score for the Chiefs on the ten minute mark and then four minutes later Karl Tu’inukuafe crashed over following a line out drive.
The Chiefs continued scoring at almost a point a minute and with almost 90% of possession the Hamilton side looked a league above the Highlanders.
Luke Jacobson went over in the 25th minute after a Chiefs scrum in which the Highlanders stole the ball from the back of the scrum only to lose it and allow the Chiefs to steal it back.
The match got even more difficult for the Highlanders after Luke Whitelock was yellow carded for an intentional knock down after 34 minutes.
The Chiefs used the number advantage and Sean Wanui dashed for the corner and scored the fifth try of the match.
On the stroke of half-time Pulu went over for his second try of the match and McKenzie’s conversion had the Chiefs leading 42-0.
The Chiefs started the second half with the same tempo but it didn’t last as the Highlanders got on to the scoreboard after five minutes when Teihorangi Walden crossed for the Dunedin side.
Although the Highlanders were a greatly improved side in the second half they were still not playing as well as fans are used to from the South Island side.
Highlanders tries followed from Elliot Dixon and Aki Seiuli before McKenzie slotted a penalty for the Chiefs with ten minutes remaining. That turned out to be the Chiefs only points in the second half.
With just three minutes left on the clock Shannon Frizell crossed for the Highlanders which cost the Chiefs the try scoring bonus point.
Lima Sopoaga had an unusually off night with the boot and was unable to convert Frizell’s try which took his record to one succesful kick from four attempts.
The Chiefs had a late chance with a penalty to earn the try bonus point but a knock on ended their chances.
Next week in the 18th round the Chiefs play the Brumbies at home in Hamilton while the Highlanders have a tough assignment against the tournament leading Crusaders in Christchurch.
Final Score Highlanders 22 (0) Chiefs 45 (42)
Tries -T.Walden, E.Dixon, A.Seiuli, S.Frizell
Con – L.Sopoaga
Cards – L.Whitelock (34th min yellow)
Tries – S.Alaimalo, T.Pulu 2, K.Tu’inukuafe, L.Jacobson, S.Wanui
Pen – D.McKenzie
Con -D.McKenzie 6
Cards -M.Allardice (73rd min yellow)
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 1:Jamie Nutbrown
Assistant Ref 2:James Doleman
TMO : Shane McDermott
Daniel Lienert-Brown, Ash Dixon (cc), Siate Tokolahi, Jackson Hemopo, Tom Franklin, Elliot Dixon, Dillon Hunt, Luke Whitelock, Aaron Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Tevita Li, Teihorangi Walden, Rob Thompson, Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith (cc)
Replacements : Liam Coltman, Aki Seiuli, Tyrel Lomax, Alex Ainley, Shannon Frizell, Kayne Hammington, Josh Ioane, Richard Buckman
1. Karl Tu’inukuafe , 2. Liam Polwart, 3. Angus Ta’avao, 4. Michael Allardice, 5. Tyler Ardron , 6. Luke Jacobson, 7. Sam Cane (c), 8. Liam Messam , 9. Brad Weber , 10. Damian McKenzie , 11. Sean Wainui , 12. Charlie Ngatai , 13. Anton Lienert-Brown , 14. Toni Pulu , 15. Solomon Alaimalo.
Replacements: 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho , 17. Sam Prattley, 18. Jeff Thwaites , 19. Jesse Parete, 20. Mitch Karpik , 21.Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi , 22. Marty McKenzie, 23. Shaun Stevenson