Chiefs underline their class
The Chiefs underlined their championship potential with a hard-fought victory over the Hurricanes in Hamilton on Saturday, winning 33-14.
After their impressive form in winning both their games in South Africa, Dave Rennie’s side showed no signs of fatigue from the long trip back as they looked all class and maintained their lead at the top of the Vodacom Super Rugby log, making them odds-on favourites to win the New Zealand conference and a good bet for the remaining rounds of the competition.
The one thing that distinguishes the Chiefs from their opposition is the plethora of attacking options they have, with their forwards almost as try-hungry as the backs, and flyhalf Aaron Cruden arguably the in-form flyhalf of the competition at the moment.
The Canes play with a lot of heart, but still haven’t found the strike force necessary to win games that are close, and it was obvious from the beginning of this match that the Chiefs were more calm and clinical, and know how to build an innings.
They may not have had the early exchanges, but the Chiefs certainly took their points when they came their way, and it wasn’t long before they were 12-3 up through four penalties by Cruden’s boot as opposed to one by Beauden Barrett.
The Hurricanes were the first to cross the tryline, however, as they reminded us when they get it right, how right they can get it.
Just when it looked like their attacking options were limited, fullback Andre Taylor stepped into the line and broke a poor tackle to take the ball forward, then flummoxed the fullback with a perfect show-and-go to score the first try of the match.
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At 12-8 at the break, the visitors would have been forgiven for thinking they were still in the game, but such thoughts were snatched away early on when TJ Perenara missed a simple one-on-one tackle from a setpiece five metres out, allowing the dancing feet of Lelia Masaga to break through and score under the sticks with ease.
The Canes pulled back two penalties through Barrett, but it was try-machine Arizona Taumalolo who crept across the tryline to take the game from their grasp.
Desperate to come back, the Canes made mistakes, and it wasn’t long before the more composed Chiefs simply put the match beyond them as Toby Smith hammered his way over the tryline despite some desperate defence.
There may still be several tales to be told in this year’s competition, but with the majority of their games at home, and the Lions arriving next week in Hamilton, the Chiefs are sitting pretty right now.
It will take some doing to stop them from claiming that top spot in the competition.
Chiefs – Tries: Lelia Masaga, Sona Taumololo, Toby Smith. Conversions: Aaron Cruden (3). Penalties: Cruden (4).
Hurricanes – Try: Andre Taylor. Penalties: Beauden Barrett (3).