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Chiefs too strong for Hurricanes in the wet

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Friday, March 10, 2017    allblacks.com    Getty Images

With rain pouring heavily throughout the contest, the Chiefs played to the conditions perfectly by kicking the ball in behind the Hurricanes defence and keeping the visitors try-less for the first 60 minutes. It took until the final quarter for the Hurricanes to really challenge the Chiefs defence, which was perhaps a result of racking up two easy victories in the opening rounds while the Chiefs were steeled from two brutal local derbies. 

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While the Chiefs were just as impressive in the ruck and maul area as they were defensively, the Hurricanes ill-discipline did them no favours in the first half with Ardie Savea and Michael Fatialofa both yellow carded in the opening 40 minutes.

After an even opening ten minutes, the Chiefs took control with Tawera Kerr-Barlow expertly manoeuvring the Chiefs around the park. When Ardie Savea was yellow-carded for repeated infringements close to the line, the Chiefs quickly struck when Brodie Retallick barged over from close range.

Two long-range Beauden Barrett penalties flattered the score-line for the Hurricanes at 7-6 before the Chiefs finished the first half stronger. Tawera Kerr-Barlow had been dangerous all half for the Chiefs and made it count when he chipped through for Toni Pulu to score on the stroke of halftime and make it 17-6.

The Chiefs defence has been their true strength this season and it took the Hurricanes 65 minutes to cross the line. After a period of concerted attack in the Chiefs half, TJ Perenara showed great strength to power over from the back of a forward drive. 



With Nehe Milner-Skudder off the park, Jordie Barrett came on and combined well with his brother Beauden for some impressive attacking raids into the Chiefs half. After scoring 24 tries in their opening two games, the Hurricanes showed their danger when Julian Savea crossed from some slick handling to make it 23-18 with a minute left on the clock.

In a dramatic twist, the Hurricanes were denied a bonus point when Ardie Savea was penalised at the breakdown with time up on the clock. Damian McKenzie duly landed his sixth shot at goal to make it a perfect night with the boot and ensure the Hurricanes left Waikato Stadium empty handed.

Talking about the atrocious conditions, Chiefs captain Sam Cane said: “It definitely changes the way you play footy. You have to be tactically smart and your defence has to be strong. I thought with ball in hand we weren’t as clinical as what we could be but we were good enough to get it done.

Next week the Chiefs face the Rebels in Melbourne while the Hurricanes host the Highlanders in Wellington.

Scorers:
Chiefs 23 (Brodie Retallick, Toni Pulu tries, Damian McKenzie 2 con, 4 pen) Hurricanes 18 (TJ Perenara, Julian Savea tries, Beauden Barrett, 2 pen, con)
HT: 17-6