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Chiefs dismantle Blues in Hamilton

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Friday, March 3, 2017    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Just six points separated the teams when Steven Luatua was red-carded on the stroke of halftime. The Blues powerhouse loose forward got his timing horrifically wrong when he took Tim Nanai-Williams high and off the ball. Reduced to 14-men, the Blues struggled to keep pace as the Chiefs surged to a 41-9 lead in front of a passionate home crowd. The deficit was always going to be too much for the Blues to overcome but their powerful finish showed that they will be a force to be reckoned with in 2017. 

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It was always going to be a brutal clash and the opening stages were just that as the two physical forward packs battled for ascendency. For the Chiefs, the lock pairing of Dominic Bird and Brodie Retallick were impressive while Kane Hames was a tower of strength up front.

The Blues had long periods of possession in the first half and pushed out to a 9-5 lead after 20 minutes through three well struck Ihaia West penalties.

While the Blues were building slowly, the Chiefs showed they could score from anywhere when Dominic Bird slipped a superb ball to Tim Nanai Williams who put Damian McKenzie over in the corner.

Another powerful Hames scrumming effort gave the Chiefs a penalty out in front and a handy 15-9 lead. With the first half winding down, the match-changing moment happened as Tawera Kerr-Barlow went on a scything run in the Blues half. Falling for the dummy, Steven Luatua took Nanai-Williams high and was red-carded by referee Ben O’Keefe.



With time up on the clock in the half, the Chiefs twisted the knife by kicking to the corner and scoring from the lineout through Hika Elliot. Early in the second half, another powerful set piece effort saw impressive openside flanker Lachlan Boshier cross to give the Chiefs a 29-9 lead after just 42 minutes.

The Blues were shell-shocked and struggled to contain the rampant Chiefs as two more tries were scored to make it 41-9 after just 60 minutes. One was a try of the season contender as the ball was turned over and the Chiefs moved it through a number of different hands before Anton Lienert-Brown crossed for his first Super Rugby try.

There was no shortage of strength on the Blues bench and they showed their class as Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu and Rene Ranger all crossed to close the gap to 41-26.

The victory extended the Chiefs winning run over the Blues to 11 matches and takes the Chiefs to clear top of the Super Rugby ladder.

Chiefs Captain and Super Rugby centurion Aaron Cruden said: “I had my first game in 2010 against the Blues so it was quite special to bring up the ton against them tonight. I enjoyed the game tonight, it was pretty free-flowing and Super Rugby seems to get faster and faster. We were good in patches but there are always things to work on and we look forward to another challenge next week against the defending champions the Hurricanes,” Cruden said.

SCORERS:
Chiefs 41 (Liam Messam, Damian McKenzie, Hika Elliot, Lachlan Boshier, James Lowe, Anton Lienert-Brown tries, Cruden 4 con, pen) Blues 26 (Patrick Tuipulotu, Charlie faumuina, Rene Ranger tries, Ihaia West 3 pen, con)
HT: 22-9