[img]/Frontpagebanners/CyrilSupeRugbyReview.jpg[/img]CHIEFS 33-14 HURRICANES The Chiefs moved back to the top of the overall Super Rugby standings on Saturday with their eighth straight victory after clinically dispatching the Hurricanes in Hamilton. Tries from Lelia Masaga, Sona Taumalolo and Toby Smith were enough to earn the hosts a comfortable win, after the exciting Andre Taylor had briefly threatened to upset the apple cart with the game's opening score. The surprising element of the Chiefs play this season has been the tremendous work put in by their tight five to establish the successful platform from which the rest of the team has thrived - and this continued at Waikato Stadium as the pack started with great intensity and purpose, taking the game to the 'Canes from the first whistle through the tireless Hika Elliot, Brodie Retallick and Number 8 Alex Bradley.
Hosts pack punch as 'Canes snap
A first opportunity for points was taken by Aaron Cruden after Conrad Smith and Dane Coles were pinged for not releasing and moments later the Chiefs were back down-field, with Taumalolo rampaging through a brittle defence, shifting the ball on to Sonny Bill Williams who drew tacklers and executed a signature offload to his cousin Tim Nanai-Williams - but the speedster was bundled in to touch ten metres from the line. The home side heavies were maintaining their commendable work rate and making yards with surprising ease and building confidence in Hurricanes territory, but when the ball was released to the backs fly-half Cruden's speculative reverse kick was easily covered by visiting full-back Taylor. Cory Jane's indiscipline at a ruck cost his side a further three points in the 15th minute, but Beauden Barrett's own successful penalty reduced the deficit after second row Rettalick was called for playing the ball in an offside position following sloppy handling from Brendon Leonard.In fairness it had been a quite even opening with the Hurricanes giving as good as they got in attack and enjoying 65% territory; but two further penalties from Cruden's nerveless boot stretched the Chiefs' advantage.With five minutes to half-time it seemed that all of the hosts hard work in the tight would be for nothing as the Hurricanes recorded the first try of the night.From a ruck the visitors spun the ball wide quickly and Andre Taylor, receiving the ball with little space to work in, managed to break a weak Cruden tackle and use the threat of winger Julian Savea as a suitable dummy outside him - bought completely by full-back Andrew Horrell - before putting on the afterburners and outpacing the defence and slide over in the corner; 12-8 to the Chiefs at the interval.
Elliot was on top form around the park in Hamilton on SaturdayDespite the setback the Chiefs began the second period as they had played most of the first - on the front foot - as they continued to dominate around the park and at the set-piece.
It didn't take long for their perseverance to pay off and it was their simplest move of the night that proved the most incisive.
With possession deep in the 'Canes half, a rampant Chiefs scrum got the shove on and forced the visitors' defensive line backwards. From the base of the scrum Leonard zipped a flat pass to Lelia Masaga - who had cut in-field looking for work - and received the ball low and at pace and the flyer they call 'Flash' proved too strong for TJ Perenara in contact and cantered over under the sticks.
Cruden comfortably added the extras, but Barrett's second 3-pointer of the night cut the Chiefs' lead to eight points moments later.
An offside Taumalolo gifted the Wellingtonians another three points just before the hour which seemed to set up a nervy final quarter as Cruden's long-range shot at goal dropped agonisingly short.
But with fifteen minutes left Taumalolo atoned with the decisive try that effectively ended the contest.
On half-way, All Black Cruden spotted a glimpse of a gap in the line and tore through it, leaving defenders flat-footed and showing great vision and pace before being desperately dragged down five metres out. From there the forwards took over with some fierce pick and drives that edged the Hurricanes back further and further before the killer thrust from the Taumalolo as the Tongan prop barged over from a yard out for a remarkable seventh try of the campaign.
The wind had been taken out of 'Cane sails and the front-rower's vital touchdown pushed the score out to 26-14 and realistically out of the reach of Mark Hammett's men.
With the clock ticking down the hosts added a third try earned by the pack and finished by replacement Toby Smith to place a gloss on the scoreline and keep the Chiefs' bandwagon rolling.
STAR MAN: HIKA ELLIOT (CHIEFS)
The home side's hooker was the pick of a hard-working bunch at Waikato Stadium. Honourable mentions to Taumalolo, Retallick and Bradley for great graft and determination, but Elliot's power in ball-carrying, tenacious tackling and accurate throwing in at the line-out gives him the nod.
5-METRE FLOP: CORY JANE (HURRICANES)
For such an established international, Jane did absolutely nothing. You could blame his inside backs for not providing the ball, but the best wingers always go looking for work and Jane did not want to know.
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