The Chiefs jumped to the top of the Super Rugby log after their 34-22 bonus-point win over the Hurricanes in Hamilton.
The defending champions ran in four tries via Matt Vant Leven, Bundee Aki, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Ben Tameifuna to boost their chances of claiming first place at the end of the league phase. This would guarantee them home-ground advantage for the semi-finals and possible final.
For the Hurricanes, the loss was a big blow to their play-off hopes as they are likely to fall further behind the top sides at the end of the weekend.
Leading 17-15 at half-time, the Chiefs delivered a strong second-half performance, scoring two tries to one. Aaron Cruden also made an important contribution with the boot, slotting six of his seven goal attempts (four conversions and two penalties).
The first half was a tight affair as both teams created several try-scoring opportunities. The Hurricanes crossed the line first when TJ Perenara powered through from close range, before the hosts surged ahead with tries by Vant Leven and Aki, who showed great pace to latch on to Cruden's chip ahead. Beauden Barrett then finished off his midfield break to cut the Chiefs' advantage to two points at half-time.
Kerr-Barlow and Tameifuna benefited from the Chiefs' ascendancy during the second half, and Cruden added two conversions and a penalty to settle matters.
The Hurricanes scored a late consolation try via Alapati Leiua.
Chiefs – Tries: Matt Vant Leven, Bundee Aki, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Ben Tameifuna. Conversions: Aaron Cruden (4). Penalties: Cruden (2).
Hurricanes – Tries: TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Alapati Leiua. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (2). Penalty: Barrett.
Chiefs – 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Matt Vant Leven, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (c), 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Subs: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Ben Tameifuna, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Charlie Ngatai.
Hurricanes – 15 James Marshall, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Reynold Lee-Lo, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Subs: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Reggie Goodes, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Tusi Pisi, 22 Alapati Leiua.
Photo: Hannah Johnston/Getty Images
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