Five tries helped the Chiefs to a deserving 29-23 win over the Blues in the Battle of the Bombays.
Aaron Cruden and Shaun Stevenson scored tries with their pace and by being able to draw in defenders, leaving Damian McKenzie to come through with crucial points off the boot when it really mattered.
Mitchell Graham scored his first try in Super Rugby, and Seta Tamanivalu showed his worth in the midfield with a try from pure strength close to the line.
The Blues toiled away all game long and threw everything at a Chiefs defense that proved to be too superior.
What is remarkable is that the Chiefs, despite all their travel, again proved that their fitness, undeniably, sets the standard in Super Rugby this year. Scoring four tries in total, their physicality on defense shut down a Blues side that didn’t kick for territory and rather tried a too direct approach.
The Blues scored two tries, and were in a position to win the game with a ten-point lead before the Chiefs came storming back with three tries in the second half.
The Full Story:
Mitchell Graham put the Chiefs out to an early 5-0 lead in the early stages with a try off loose ball, but the Blues blew a brilliant chance to get straight back into the game after creating a 3-on-1 situation, only to lose possession.
It was Graham’s first try in Super Rugby in his second season with the Chiefs.
Blues midfielder Piers Francis was forced to leave the field on a stretcher with a potential serious back injury.
Ihaia West put the Blues on the board with a penalty out in front.
Shaun Stevenson scored in the corner, extending the Chiefs lead to 10-3, the youngster dotting over the line in his first match back in the starting line-up since a shoulder injury.
The try was brought about by the Chiefs sensational running game, again spearheaded by Charlie Ngatai in the midfield.
West etched the Blues closer as halftime approached with his second penalty kick of the night, making the score 10-6, ending a half of rugby where both sides seemed intent on throwing the ball around.
The Blues continued to surge as Melani Nanai scored his fourth try in Super Rugby, and in doing so, putting his side into the lead as the second half began.
Falling off tackles cost the Chiefs another five-points, this time Rieko Ioane scoring for the Blues after wriggling out of a strong tackle and was easily able to palm off defensive support.
Suddenly the Blues were out to a 20-10 lead.
Aaron Cruden sparked the Chiefs back into life with numbers in support to his left, drawing in enough defenders close to the try line and sliding over for another try in his illustrious Super Rugby career. Damian McKenzie re-started his kicking target and put the Chiefs to within three, the score now 20-17.
Seta Tamanivalu powered the Chiefs further back into the game with authority, walking through tacklers and dotting down in the corner. McKenzie converted, putting the Chiefs back into the lead 22-20.
Sam Henwood became the second player to be stretchered off the field with what looked like a moderate injury.
Brodie Retallick scored the Chiefs definitive try, adding sweet pay to a nights work fresh off a long injury. McKenzie converted, putting the Chiefs out of to the Blues grasp 29-20.
Not only did the try seal the deal for the Chiefs, but it also brought up yet another bonus point.
The Blues got a late penalty, Ihaia West kicking his fourth from the tee. But it wasn’t enough, the Chiefs deserving winners 29-23.
( Mitchell Graham, Shaun Stevenson, Aaron Cruden, Seta Tamanivalu Damian McKenzie 3 con)
(Melani Nanai, Rieko Ioane, Ihaia West 3 pen, 2 con)
“Main Photo Credit”