Vodacom Super 14

Chiefs one step closer

2009-05-09 11:23
Stephen Donald (File)

Hamilton - Flyhalf Stephen Donald provided all Chiefs' points as they beat the Hurricanes 16-8 on Saturday, moving ahead of the Hurricanes to top spot on the Super 14 rugby table.

The All Black kicked three first-half penalties, including his 100th penalty in Super 14, to give Chiefs a 9-8 lead at halftime. He then scored and converted a 41st-minute try for the only points of the second half as the Chiefs held on to their eighth win of the season, a franchise record.

In wet and slippery conditions, kicking for goal and position separated the teams. Donald kicked four goals from five attempts while Hurricanes flyhalf Willie Ripia, who entered the match with an 84 percent success rate, landed only one of five shots at goal.

"It was really close," Chiefs captain Mils Muliaina said. "The team that was really patient got there in the end."

Breakdowns became the crucial area of the game and it was in that area that the Chiefs carved out a narrow advantage. Referee Bryce Lawrence took a hard line on breakdown offences in the first half, affecting the game's continuity, but allowed more freedom to both sides after halftime.

"The Chiefs played really well and showed why they deserve to beat at the top of the table," Hurricanes captain Rodney So'oialo said. "They were more clinical at breakdowns than we were and deserved to win today."

Donald slotted an early penalty to give Waikato a 3-0 lead but the Hurricanes hit back with a penalty to Ripia, then the first try of the match after 10 minutes to dangerous winger David Smith. Hooker Andrew Hore forced a breakdown turnover and center Ma'a Nonu wrong-footed the defense before passing to Smith who slid over in the left corner.

Ripia missed the conversion but Donald landed further penalties in the 12th and 35th minutes to send his team into halftime with a one-point lead.

The Chiefs came out fired up for the second half and scored almost immediately, running back the kickoff from deep within their own territory. Donald received the ball near the 22 and, seeing the defense drifting wide, cut back through weak inside tackling to score near the posts.

His conversion was the last score of the match.


Chiefs - Try: Stephen Donald. Conversion: Donald. Penalties: Donald (3)

Hurricanes - Try: David Smith. Penalties: Willie Ripia

Referee: Bryce Lawrence (NZL)

Read more on:    rugby

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