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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Chiefs break Hurricanes' unbeaten home run

Waikato Chiefs handed defending Super Rugby champions Hurricanes their first home defeat of the season on Friday in a frantically paced New Zealand derby.

The Chiefs edged the Hurricanes 17-14 as both sides scored two converted tries, with a Damien McKenzie penalty proving the difference.

The Hurricanes' starting XV had six players named in the All Blacks squad to play the British and Irish Lions while the Chiefs had five, providing ample motivation for those looking to secure a test berth.

It was end-to-end rugby, with both sides chancing their arm and throwing the ball around, although the expected try-fest did not eventuate due to some ferocious defence.

The intensity of the match underscored the task facing the Lions, who are yet to face both teams and fell to a 22-16 defeat this week to the Blues, the worst of New Zealand's five Super Rugby franchises this season.

But the Chiefs' win may have come at a cost for the All Blacks after fly-half Aaron Cruden did not emerge for the second half following a knock to the knee.

With the unbeaten Crusaders set to take top spot in the New Zealand conference, the fixture was essentially a battle for second, which guarantees fifth place overall on the Super Rugby ladder.

The Hurricanes, on 54, retain a one-point lead over the Chiefs.

The reward for coming fifth is likely to be a play-off match against the Brumbies in Canberra, rather than a draining trip to meet the Stormers in Cape Town.

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The Hurricanes opened the scoring after five minutes when lock Vaea Fifita crossed the line after scooping up TJ Perenara's pass.

Perenara and newly minted All Black Jordie Barrett then combined for a try-saving defensive effort on their own line to deny the Chiefs.

The Waikato team hit back when a stray kick from Hurricanes fly-half Beauden Barrett sparked an attack that resulted in a try for his opposite number Cruden.

Cruden came close to a second but was brought down by Vince Aso just short of the line, injuring his knee.

With the scores locked at 7-7, McKenzie squandered the chance to put the Chiefs ahead when he hooked a straightforward penalty attempt.

The Chiefs appeared to be in trouble when lock Michael Allardice was sin-binned for foul play, but winger James Lowe scored against the run of play after a fine break from Cruden's replacement Shaun Stevenson.

McKenzie's penalty provided enough of a buffer for the Chiefs to stay ahead, even after Jordie and Beauden Barrett unlocked their defence to put Wes Goosen over.


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