Chiefs grind down Hurricanes
Hamilton - The Chiefs finished full of running to post an emphatic 33-14 victory over the Hurricanes at Waikato Stadium on Saturday to regain top spot in the Super Rugby standings.
The Chiefs were temporarily pipped for top spot on the overall log by the Bulls, who received four log points courtesy of their bye weekend.
Second half tries from Leila Masaga, Sona Taumololo and Toby Smith, and 18 points off the boot of Aaron Cruden, secured the Chiefs their eighth straight win from nine games this season.
"I'm just rapped that we could get a win and keep the ball rolling," skipper Craig Clarke, who notched his 50th Super Rugby match with the Chiefs, said in a pitchside interview.
"After half-time, we thought if we could hold the ball a little bit longer then we could create things."
The Hurricanes took their fifth loss of the season but had raised hope of reeling in the hosts when Beauden Barrett's third penalty kick put them within five points 17 minutes after the break.
However, Chiefs prop Taumololo barged over the line eight minutes later to ease the pressure before replacement Smith slammed the door shut with a 76th minute try.
Taumalolo added to a remarkable try-scoring record, touching down for the seventh time in nine matches.
Cruden, laser-sharp all night, kicked the Chiefs to a 12-8 lead at half-time with four penalties, but the Hurricanes had the first try through Andre Taylor five minutes before the break, the fullback charging 50m down the left wing.
Livewire winger Masaga kept the Hurricanes at bay with a try five minutes after half-time, breaking a tackle with a piercing run to cross beneath the posts after receiving a flat pass from scrumhalf Brendon Leonard.
Any evidence that the Chiefs might tire after their long-haul flight home from South Africa quickly evaporated as the home side kept the Hurricanes scoreless in the last quarter and added 14 points to keep their dominant season rolling.
Tries: Lelia Masaga, Sona Taumalolo, Toby Smith.
Conversions: Aaron Cruden (3)
Penalties: Cruden (4)
Try: Andre Taylor
Penalties: Beauden Barrett (3)
15 Andrew Horrell, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Tim Nani-Williams, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Alex Bradley, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (captain), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Sona Taumalolo
16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Asaeli Tikoirotuma
15 Andre Taylor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben May
Substitutes: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Reg Goodes, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Jack Lam, 20 Chris Eaton, 21 Charlie Ngatai, 22 Alapati Leiua