First-half blitz sees Chiefs home

 First-half blitz sees Chiefs home

Three unanswered first-half tries built the platform for the Chiefs 28-24 victory over the Hurricanes in Waikato on Friday.

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In the final round of the regular-season, Colin Cooper’s Hamiltonian's required an unlikely bonus-point win of 23 points to leapfrog their southern rivals into fourth and guarantee they hosted a rematch at the FMG Stadium in next week’s Semifinal Qualifier.

While the Chiefs had opted to rest play-maker Damian McKenzie in anticipation of the playoffs, the return of Brodie Retallick to the starting XV ensured there remained a certain element of experience within their ranks.

Jeffery Toomaga-Allen ran out for his 100th Super Rugby cap in one of three changes to Chris Boyd’s side which also included the return of tournament leading try-scorer Ben Lam on the left wing.

The hosts dominated the opening half, scoring tries through Retallick, Brad Weber and Solomon Alaimalo with a flawless kicking display from Damian’s brother Marty pushing them out to a commanding 21-0 lead.

The early loss of skipper Brad Shields to injury was a big blow to the men in yellow, who continually found themselves on the wrong end of Mike Fraser’s whistle with severe ill-discipline at the breakdown.

Jordie Barrett pulled a long-range penalty soon after the break, but his side were soon rewarded when two quickfire tries to Wes Goosen and Blade Thompson narrowed the deficit to seven.

The Chiefs were reeling and, when centre Johnny Fa’auli copped a red card for a high challenge on Goosen with a quarter to play, the pendulum swung in the Canes’ favour.

After turning down a shot at goal, a Ben May score brought the scores back within two, but Mitchell Karpik touched down against the run of play to stretch the lead back out to 28-19 with 10 minutes on the clock.

In spite of another late five-pointer, this time to Julian Savea, the Chiefs held on for victory.

The result means the Chiefs will travel to Wellington next week to again face the Hurricanes in an effective quarterfinal.

Chiefs: 15 Solomon Alaimalo, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Johnny Fa’auli, 11 Shaun Stevenson, 10 Marty McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Jesse Parete, 7 Mitchell Karpik, 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Tyler Ardron, 4 Brodie Retallick (c), 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Liam Polwart, 1 Sam Prattley
Substitutes: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Michael Allardice, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Tiaan Falcon, 23 Alex Nankivell

Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Wes Goosen, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Sam Henwood, 6 Brad Shields (c), 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Michael Fatialofa, 3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Toby Smith
Substitutes: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Ben May, 19 Gareth Evans, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Julian Savea

Tries: Retallick, Weber, Alaimalo, Karpik
Cons: McKenzie (4)         
Red card: Fa’auli

Tries: Goosen, Thompson, May, Savea
Cons: J Barrett (2)

Written by Shaun Goosen for Hollywoodbets

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