Pukekohe - Aaron Cruden again underlined his
credentials as the long-term successor to Daniel Carter in the All
Blacks with a superb all round performance in guiding the Waikato Chiefs
to a 34-21 victory over the Lions in their Super Rugby clash on
Cruden scored a try, set up another for winger Lelia
Masaga and was perfect with his goalkicking as he slotted four
conversions and two penalties for the table-topping Chiefs, who moved to
44 points with the bonus-point win.
"We are pretty pleased we
scored a few tries, but there were also a few lapses too and we let them
run too much," said Chiefs captain Craig Clarke, who scored his first
Super Rugby try.
Scrumhalf Brendon Leonard grabbed the bonus-point try following a speculative kick and chase.
The Chiefs success this season has been built on smothering defence and
a much improved forward performance that has given flyhalf Cruden the
time to dictate play, which he did with composed efficiency against the
Lions in Pukekohe.
Coach Dave Rennie chose to rest several of
the forwards that had helped the Chiefs to eight successive wins but it
made little difference as the Hamilton-based side smashed into tackles
and the breakdown on the way to equalling their most wins in a Super
They also won nine games in 2009, when they
finished runners-up to the Bulls, though with six matches remaining are
almost certain to add to that total.
The Lions used their
massive pack to score all three of their tries, with replacement lock
Cobus Grobelaar bashing over twice from rolling mauls following
attacking lineouts, while captain Joshua Strauss smashed over from in
Elton Jantjies converted all three tries, though the
Lions played most of the game hemmed inside their own half and made too
many errors in their execution.
"When we stuck to our game plan
it worked for us but we gave them a lot of ball and they're a side that
punishes you," said Grobelaar. "We were playing a lot of catch-up rugby
but the guys showed good character.
"We just need to work on our basics and there are things to improve."
Tries: Cruden, Clarke, Masaga, Leonard
Cons: Cruden 4
Pens: Cruden 2
Tries: Grobbelaar 2, Strauss
Con: Jantjies 3Teams:
Chiefs: 15 Andrew Horrell, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Tanerau Latimer, 5 Michael Fitzgerald, 4 Craig Clarke (captain), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Arizona Taumalolo, 18 Alex Bradley, 19 Scott Waldrom, 20 Tawera Kerr- Barlow, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Maritino Nemani.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Joshua Strauss (captain), 7 Grant Hattingh, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Franco van der Merwe, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Cobus Grobbelaar, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Tian Meyer, 21 James Kamana, 22 Michael Killian.