Stalemate in Hamilton

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Friday, March 15, 2019    Getty Images

In an emotional evening at FMG Stadium Waikato, both teams linked arms prior to kick-off to show solidarity for Christchurch before the thrilling encounter got underway.


Much was made of the blockbuster midfield match-up between All Blacks contenders Anton Lienert-Brown and Ngani Laumape and it took just two minutes for the Chiefs second five-eighth to make an impact when he scored from a charge down to snatch the early lead.

It was the dream start for the Chiefs and the confidence flowed through the side as they began to stretch the Hurricanes with a brilliant offloading game.

But it was the Hurricanes who crossed for the second try when the defence was split from a midfield scrum and Beauden Barrett put Matt Proctor into a hole.

It became a theme in the game that when one team took the advantage, the other would immediately snatch it back again. And so it continued when Tyler Ardon made a break from the back of the scrum and put halfback Brad Weber into space. It looked like the promising move had broken down when the ball went to ground, but Damian McKenzie was on the spot to pounce on the loose ball and had too much pace for the cover defence in a searing 40 metre run to the line.

Penalties were traded between the sides before the Chiefs went into the sheds with a 20-13 lead.

While Damian McKenzie was an ever-present threat from the back, so to was Chase Tiatia for the Hurricanes. He showed just how dangerous he is in the 50th minute with a clean break in midfield and superb long ball to put Wes Goosen over. Beauden Barrett then slotted the conversion from out wide to claim the 20-23 lead.

The Chiefs have conceded more points than any other team in Super Rugby this year, and there was a concern that the Hurricanes could run riot in the final 25 minutes. 

An incredible 58 metre penalty from Damian McKenzie tied up the scores 23-23 in the 57th minute and there was to be no more movement on the scoreboard with Brodie Retallick, Mitchell Karpik and Mitchell Brown leading the defensive effort for the Chiefs.

The Hurricanes snatched a victory late in the game against the Highlanders last week and had the chance to do it again versus the Chiefs with a scrum five metres from the line in the dying minutes.

The Chiefs were desperate to end their losing streak and held out the Hurricanes before the whistle was finally blown on another hard fought New Zealand derby.

Chiefs 23 (Anton Lienert-Brown tries, Damian McKenzie, try, 2 con, 3 pen) Hurricanes 23 (Matt Proctor, Wes Goosen tries, Beauden Barrett 2 con, 2 pen, Jordie Barrett pen)
HT: 20-13