Thrush: Tight win a wake-up call
Wellington - The Hurricanes triumphed 22-18 over the Chiefs in a bruising battle between the top two teams in the SupeRugby competition in Wellington on Saturday.
Ma'a Nonu sealed the outcome in the 67th minute with the second of his two tries when he knocked the ball clear in an attempted intercept and then skilfully scooped it up just before it hit the ground to run 40 metres to the line.
In a desperate finish, the injury-ravaged Chiefs, with a makeshift middle-row after losing both locks, won an attacking five-metre scrum on full-time but conceded a penalty when their pack came under pressure.
The Chiefs led 13-10 at half-time, and Hurricanes lock Jeremy Thrush said that served as a wake-up call as the championship pacesetters fought back to secure their 11th win from 12 games.
"It's really the first time we've been put under that sort of pressure in that first 40 minutes and it took us a while to react," he said.
"They got a bit of a lucky break to get on top, then both their locks went off and they had a man in the bin and it gave us a bit of confidence to get into our driving mauls."
The Hurricanes have now skipped 17 points clear of the second-placed Bulls.
The Chiefs, 13 points behind the 'Canes, are the second-most successful team although they remain in fourth place under the conference system which reserves the first three places to the top teams from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.