Chiefs put Blues to the sword
Sonny Bill Williams (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow was at his sniping best as he scored a try and constantly tested the defensive line as the Chiefs used a blistering first half to beat the Blues 29-14 in their Super Rugby clash in Hamilton on Friday.
Undaunted by driving rain, Kerr-Barlow was given an easy ride by his pack, who cleared out the breakdown and provided him with a superb attacking platform to unleash his backline.
The home side, who let the Highlanders pinch a 23-19 victory last week, put the game beyond doubt in the first half when prop Sona Taumalolo, wingers Asaeli Tikoirotuma and Tim Nanai-Williams, and Kerr-Barlow all scored tries as the hosts blasted the Blues off the park.
Flyhalf Aaron Cruden was also deadly accurate with his boot, slotting three conversions and a penalty while his Blues opposite Michael Hobbs was successful with two penalties as the Chiefs went into the break with a 29-6 lead.
"It was one of those halves of footy where everything went right, everything seemed to stick and it was pretty expansive for a wet weather game," Chiefs captain Craig Clarke said.
"We just had to stick to it in the second half."
The Blues were more organised and held on to the ball in the second half but were stymied by a blistering defensive line from the Chiefs as they fell to their second straight defeat in a disappointing start to the season.
Hobbs added a penalty for the Blues to reduce the deficit with 25 minutes remaining, but neither side was able to trouble the scoreboard again until Blues replacement Sherwin Stowers scored a consolation try with three minutes left.
"The Chiefs played... well today and we played poorly in the first half and it just wasn't good enough," Blues captain Keven Mealamu said in a blunt television interview.
"We have to go away and look at ourselves because we were just not... good enough."
The Chiefs picked up a full-house of five points for their bonus point victory and moved to the top of both the Overall log and the New Zealand Conference. The Blues left empty-handed.
In next weekend's Round 3 action, the Chiefs travel to Napier to face the Crusaders, while the Blues visit Loftus Versfeld to play the Bulls.
15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Tim Nanai-Williams, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tanerau Latimer 6 Liam Messam (captain), 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger , 1 Arizona Taumalolo
Substitutes: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Shane Cleaver, 18 Fritz Lee, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Declan O’Donnell
15 Isaia Toeava, 14 David Raikuna, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Michael Hobbs, 9 Alby Mathewson; 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Chris Lowrey, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 Tevita Mailau, 2 Keven Mealamu (captain), 1 Tom McCartney
Substitutes: 16 Pauliasi Manu, 17 Angus Ta’avao, 18 Brad Mika, 19 Luke Braid, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Gareth Anscombe, 22 Sherwin Stowers