Super Rugby

Chiefs scalp Blues after McKenzie heroics

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The Chiefs beat the Blues 15-12 in an error-strewn but thrilling Super Rugby Aotearoa Round Five clash at FMG Stadium, Hamilton.

Damian McKenzie scored a last-ditch try with 43 seconds remaining to snatch a remarkable victory against a Blues team, who have now lost two consecutive Super Rugby games.

The come-from-behind win is the Chiefs‘ second win on the bounce, the first time since 2019 that the men from the Waikato won back-to-back Super Rugby matches.

Both teams crossed twice: Samisoni Taukei’aho and McKenzie for the Chiefs; Akira Ioane and Tom Robinson. The Chiefs’ 25-year-old playmaker scored 10 of his team’s 15 points and made a crucial try-saving tackle on Mark Telea in the 30th-minute.

The Blues led 8-12 going into the final moments and looked certain to see out the game for the win. But the home team had other ideas.

Inspired by Chase Tiatia, Luke Jacobson, and McKenzie, the Chiefs dug deep to pull out the unlikeliest of upset wins.

The victory broke a two-game losing streak against the Blues, while last weekend’s win over the Hurricanes broke a record-equalling 11-game Super Rugby Aotearoa losing run.

Bizarrely, this is the fifth time on the trot that the Chiefs have won a New Zealand Super Rugby derby after trailing at halftime.

Blues dominate proceedings but only lead 7-0 at halftime

The visitors had the better of possession (60%) and territory (67%), making seven linebreaks to one, yet could not finish.

Both sides conceded too many turnovers (Chiefs 8 – Blues 9) which is not a recipe for success.

Quinn Tupaea caused all manner of problems for the Blues, who could not stop the centre. The 21-year-old made three linebreaks, beating eight defenders while making nine tackles in a splendid first stanza.

But, after countless forrays into chiefs’ territory, the Blues struck.

Akira Ioane’s 25th-minute score gave the Blues a slender seven-point lead into the shed in a half dominated by the visitors, who kept their hosts scoreless in the first stanza.

Ioane spun out of Brad Weber and Sam Cane’s tackles from close-range. The try came from a botched Chiefs lineout.

Finlay Christie won the loose ball, was tackled short. Patrick Tuipulotu had a go before Ioane barged his way over. Otere Black added the extras.

Telea should have scored on the half-hour but McKenzie’s last-ditch tackle –– his second in as many weeks –– knocked the ball out of the winger’s hands and into touch.

No more points were scored in what had become an arm-wrestle.

Chiefs get back into the game but struggle to score

McKenzie’s early second-half penalty put Clayton McMillan’s side on the scoreboard. The Chiefs began to enjoy a rare attacking series inside the opposition’s 22.

Super Rugby Aotearoa Round 5 Video Highlights: Chiefs vs Blues at FMG Stadium, Hamilton

Cane eschewed kicking the points three times, and twice his side was repelled near the line.

The Chiefs battered the goal line, going six phases before Anton Lienert-Brown latched onto a Kaleb Trask grubber.

However, Stephen Perofeta knocked the ball out of Lienert-Brown’s hands as the centre attempted to dot down the ball.

Cane opted for another driving maul, moments later. The hosts drove the visitors over their line, but the maul was held up. Cane’s men were getting close.

The home team finally found their way over the whitewash when Taukei’aho crashed over before the hour mark following a powerful driving maul.

McKenzie missed the conversion, but the Chiefs led by one going into the final quarter.

Blues take control in the last 20 minutes, but the Chiefs have the final word

Black missed a 61st-minute penalty but it did not matter because the Blues hit back when Robinson burst away down the righthand touchline to score.

Caleb Clarke’s sublime touchline break set up the try. Jonathan Ruru shifted to Dalton Papali’i, who drew his man before sending Robinson away down the sideline.

The 26-year-old danced past Lienert-Brown and Trask then fended off Weber to score.

Black missed the wide conversion, but the visitors led by four with 18 minutes remaining.

With 11 minutes to play, Papali’i dotted down after a powerful driving maul, but Gerard Cowley-Tuioti was in front of Papali’i, obstructing the tacklers.

The Chiefs then had a chance to win the game at the death, but another botched lineout saw the chance go begging.

But there was a final twist. Mitchell Brown broke a tackle and offloaded to Luke Jacobson in support. Jacobson carried to the goal line before popping an inside ball to McKenzie to seal the deal.

Final Score: Chiefs 15 (0) Blues 12 (7)

Scorers

Chiefs
Tries – Taukei’aho, McKenzie
Pen – McKenzie
Con – McKenzie
Drop –
Cards –

Blues
Tries – A. Ioane, Robinson
Pen –
Con – Black
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: James Doleman
Assistant Ref 1: Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 2: Angus Mabey
TMO: Aaron Paterson

Teams

Chiefs

15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Kaleb Trask, 9 Brad Weber (co-captain), 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Samipeni Finau, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross

Replacements:
 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Reuben O’Neill, 19 Simon Parker, 20 Pita Gus Sowakula, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Alex Nankivell, 23 Chase Tiatia

Blues

15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papali’i, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Luteru Tolai, 1 Alex Hodgman

Replacements:
 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Tom Robinson, 21 Adrian Choat, 22 Jonathan Ruru, 23 TJ Faiane

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