Steve Hansen faces difficult selection for No.10 starter against Wallabies

When the All Blacks squad for the opening Bledisloe Cup test against Australia is announced on Thursday morning, all eyes will be on who starts at first five eighth.

Will it be the red hot Beauden Barrett, or the traditional work horse Aaron Cruden who gets the nod to start against the Wallabies?

No one can question that Barrett is in career-best form heading into Saturday’s match. Fresh off a Super Rugby title win two weeks ago, more than a handful of people say that this is the time for Barrett to be given the start in a blockbuster match. Continue reading Steve Hansen faces difficult selection for No.10 starter against Wallabies

Chiefs prepare to launch beginning with home clash against Rebels

The Chiefs say their confidence hasn’t been dented despite a poor loss to the in-form Highlanders last time out in which ball security was a major issue.

Head coach Dave Rennie says he spent a lot of time looking at his sides last performance on video during the bye week.

“We had a pretty brutal review, but in the end it is a pretty good learning curve for us and the Highlanders exposed a couple of areas that we need to be sharper in”, Rennie said.

The Chiefs believe that they are in a position to launch towards the playoffs with just four rounds of regular competition remaining, and two rounds remaining before the June international window that will see a handful of the Chiefs players going off on All Black duties. Continue reading Chiefs prepare to launch beginning with home clash against Rebels

McKenzie Breaks Century Record As Chiefs Thrash Brumbies

The Chiefs have broken a long losing-streak in Canberra dating back to 2008, punishing the Brumbies 58-23 tonight.

Dave Rennie’s men punished the Brumbies who went into the match as Super Rugby’s best defensive team, and closest-rivals to the Chiefs on the points table.

The Chiefs ran in six tries, including a double for James Lowe on the wing, and it was nothing short of punishing, a performance fitting of a team that deserves its place on top of the Super Rugby ladder.

Lowe’s two tries puts him into the top tier of players to dot over the line in 2016, but it was the wingers ability to kick into space and put the Chiefs deep into Brumbies territory that was equally as impressive. Continue reading McKenzie Breaks Century Record As Chiefs Thrash Brumbies

Chiefs Win Historic Jaguares Encounter 30-26 In Thriller

Brad Weber has scored what will go down as a famous try to hand the Chiefs a win over the Jaguares 30-26 in a thrilling finish.

A full house and expectant home crowd packed into Estadio Jose in Bruenos Aires for the Jaguares historic first home game in Super Rugby, and the new side packed full of regular Pumas nearly pulled off something special.

Leading at the break, the Jaguares appeared to have just fallen short, before a brilliant breakaway try with three minutes remaining put the hosts in front.

But a try at the death by Brad Weber, following by a perfect kick from Damian McKenzie on the touch line, snatched victory for the Chiefs, making Weber a hero, and providing a thrilling finish to one of the best matches in Super Rugby history.

Weber can pay a lot of his historic moment to Aaron Cruden, showing all his class as an All Black regular, helping to setup the try, and creating space for Weber to run into.

The full story:

Argentine rugby is known for its power at scrum time, so perhaps it was fate that the first try the Jaguares would score at home in Argentina came from this. Jaguares captain Augistin Creevy getting the honours as the first to score a try for the club playing at home.

A handling error after the kick off saw the Jaguares early lead be quickly snatched away, quick hands by the Chiefs backline saw winger Sam MicNicol score his debut try in Super Rugby in the corner.

Damian McKenzie added a fourth try in as many matches to increase the Chiefs lead after the Jaguares coughed up possession near their own try line for the second time.

Constant penalties began to mount against the Chiefs as the Jaguares continued to play their expansive, fast-flowing, and brave style, refusing to kick possession away. All Black halfback and experienced Chiefs player Tawera Kerr-Barlow was sent to the sin bin for playing the ball on the ground and illegally taking possession away from the Jaguares.

Nicolas Sanchez’s boot saw the Jaguares kick their way back into the lead with the score 14-13 at half time.

With Aaron Cruden failing to convert on his chances in the first half, Damian McKenzie was given the kicking duties, and continued his rich vain of form with the boot to kick the Chiefs back into the lead.

The dominance that the Jaguares had in the scrum fell away, and when the handling errors continued, Chiefs midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown created a counter attack, and James Lowe was there to clutch the pass and score in the corner.

The Jaguares kept their faith in an expansive style of rugby, often attempting to run the ball out of their own goal line.

After television replays showed Martin Landojo had touched the ball down, the Jaguars were right back in the match, and it was their daring brand of rugby that had been on the script all night that turned the match on its head again.

From deep in their own half, and helped by weak tackles from Chiefs defenders, Martias Moroni raced away to score, and put the Jaguares into the lead.

With precious time remaining, the Chiefs were awarded a scrum, and after a successful execution, Aaron Cruden found space and connected with Brad Weber to score a try that put the Chiefs back in front, but only by two points.

Damian McKenzie converted from out wide, giving the Chiefs a 30-26 lead, and the win.

Score Centre

Jaguares 26

(Augistin Creevy, Martin Landojo, Martias Moroni, Nicolas Sanchez 3 pen, 1 con)

Chiefs 30

(Sam McNicol, James Lowe, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie 1 try, 1 pen, 2 con, Aaron Cruden 1 pen)

Controversial Call As Lions Beat Chiefs 36-32

The Chiefs have narrowly missed out on victory for the second week in a row, losing a controversial nail biter to the Lions 36-32.

A crowd of over 15,000 at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton willed their team on, but a high penalty count and superior Lions physicality across saw the Chiefs constantly chasing the game.

Dave Rennie’s men tried until the final siren, where a controversial penalty by referee Andrew Lees, saw the Lions escape with the win after the Chiefs stormed back into the game in the second half.

It was the second straight win for the Lions, and the second week in a row that the Chiefs have struggled in the set piece and at scrum time.

The full story:

The Chiefs took the early lead thanks to the boot of Damian McKenzie, but the Lions answered back when Elton Jantjies landed a kick of his own.

Jantjies put the Lions in front with his second three thanks to the Chiefs being offside in the ruck.

Loose-forward Tom Sanders scored his first try in Super Rugby to put the Chiefs back in the lead 8-6.

The try was thanks large in part to a dashing run down field by Seta Taminavalu, the Chiefs midfielder powerfully fending off Lions defenders to create space.

Persistent possession from turnover ball at the breakdown saw the Lions begin to hold the Chiefs in their red zone. The pressure eventually led to a try as the long period of possession paid off.

Lions hooker Malcolm Marx scored to put the Lions back in front.

Jantjies extended the Lions lead to 16-8 as the penalty count mounted considerably against the Chiefs, and the young Lions first-five landed yet another three moments later, making it 19-8.

McKenzie gave the Chiefs some respite, landing a penalty on the halftime siren to head into the sheds trailing 19-11.

Brodie Retallick departed early in the second half with a niggle to his left shoulder.

The Lions pushed further into the lead when the speed of winger Courtnal Skosan proved to be too much for the Chiefs defense, stepping through two defenders and scoring in the corner for the Lions second try.

Trailing 24-11, Dave Rennie began ringing the changes in the hopes of providing a little impact off the bench in a game where the Chiefs were finding it difficult to get anything going on offense.

McKenzie scored after receiving the ball in space, notching a crucial five-pointer to bring the Chiefs closer.

Stunning footwork from James Lowe fooled the Lions defense, and in one of the best tries of the season so far, the Chiefs hit back into the lead 25-24 in a game that had suddenly turned into a nail biter.

Warren Whitely smashed through as the Lions surged again, scoring to put his side back in front, the score 31-25 after Jantjies converted.

Sideline referee’s missed a clear foot on the line as the Lions took possession from broken play, and amongst the chaos, Lions backs found themselves with an overlap.

Ruan Combrinck scored the Lions fourth try, increasing the lead past 10-points with the last part of the match remaining.

With no choice but to go onto full attack, the Chiefs turned down an easy three points, choosing to opt for an attacking lineout close to the try line, and the gamble paid off.

Brad Weber swiped the ball from the back of the ruck and scored a crucial try for the Chiefs. McKenzie converted, but the Chiefs were still behind by four points with the score now 36-32.

Referee Andrew Lees had the final say in the match, penalising the Chiefs with attacking ball on the five-metre line, despite replays suggesting that the Lions forward pack had illegally brought down the rolling maul on the last play of the game.

The Lions won 36-32 and secured their second win on the trot.

Score Centre

Chiefs 32

(Tom Sanders, James Lowe, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie 1 try, 2 pen, 4 con)

Lions 36

( Malcom Marx, Courtnal Skosan, Warren Whitely, Ruan Combrink, Elton Jantjies 4 pen, 2 con)

Chiefs Beat Crusaders 27-21 In Nail-Biter

The Chiefs are off to a winning start in the 2016 Super Rugby competition after scoring a narrow victory over the Crusaders 27-21 in Christchurch.

Key performances by Damian McKenzie and Taleni Seu contributed to the win.

McKenzie scored his first try at Super Rugby level and also converted a kick from the sideline to put the Chiefs into the lead late in the game.

Returning to rugby, Aaron Cruden impressed, leading the Chiefs backline around the field while getting into a few scuffles with Crusaders halfback Andy Ellis.

On his debut, Shaun Stevenson scored in an individual moment of brilliance, but his season could be over after suffering what could be a serious shoulder injury early in the second half.

Also under the injury cloud is Tom Sanders who limped from the field.

The full story:

A dangerous Chiefs backline was completely neutralized in the opening 25-minutes, and any ball the Chiefs did have was kicked away quickly. The Crusaders held possession and managed to keep themselves deep in Chiefs territory, winning the crucial set-piece battle early on.

Damian McKenzie kicked the Chiefs first three points with a long-range kick from halfway.

Shaun Stevenson couldn’t believe his luck when he ripped the ball from the hands of Crusaders fullback and had a clear run to the tryline.

Down by 7-points, a massive shunt at the shunt saw Kieran Read find the ball in his hands. Read handed off to an unmarked Richie Mo’unga, and the Crusaders scored a crucial try on the hooter to put them back in the lead.

At halftime, the Crusaders led 13-8.

Seta Tamanivalu scored to put the Chiefs back in the lead after several phases of attack to kick off the second half.

Meanwhile, Chiefs youngster Shaun Stevenson left the field with what appeared to be a broken arm or serious shoulder injury.

David Havili made up for his earlier mistake on the night with a try in the corner, putting the Crusaders back into the lead, a lead that Mo’unga later extended to 6-points when the Chiefs were penalized for obstruction.

McKenzie scored his first Chiefs try, and put the Chiefs in the lead by successfully landing the conversion, making the score 22-21.

Referee Chris Pollock called a halt to play after Crusaders replacement Reed Prinsep Suffered a major concussion following a big head clash in the act of making a tackle. Prinsep’s head knock caused a lengthy delay to play as medics followed all protocols for such a serious injury.

Sam Cane scored from a lineout drive to put the icing on the cake, sealing victory in the 78th minute.

The Chiefs held on to win 27-21, and secured their first win of Super Rugby.

Score Centre

Crusaders 21 

(David Havili, Richie Mo’unga 1 try, 3 pen)

Chiefs 27

(Shaun Stevenson, Seta Tamanivalu, Sam Cane, Aaron Cruden 1 con, Damian McKenzie 1 try, 1 con, 1 pen)

Blues Beat Chiefs Despite Losing Kaino After Punch

Poor discipline from the Chiefs has seen the Blues come away with a 24-12 victory in Pukekohe.

Head coach Dave Rennie will be less than pleased with his side after the Chiefs gave away 13 penalties, many coming in the second half, allowing the Blues to come charging back into the match after a poor opening.

Blues captain Jerome Kaino had been red carded early in the second half after punching Chiefs prop Pauliasi Manu, but replays showed no intention and just an accident by Kaino.

But the Chiefs couldn’t take advantage of having an extra man, and if anything, Kaino’s sending off had a profound effect on the Blues and they would go on to score three further tries.

In his return to rugby, Aaron Cruden helped the Chiefs out to an early lead, setting up Seta Tamanivalu for a try after casually stepping his way through the Blues defense in a breathtaking move.

Cruden played about 60-minutes and looked dangerous with ball in hand, but his kicking game needs a bit of work.

Glen Fisiiahi was also impressive again, showing his speed on the wing.

Score Centre:

Chiefs 14

(Charlie Ngatai, Seta Tamanivalu, Aaron Cruden 1 con)

Blues 24

(Patrick Tuipulotu, Bryn Hall, Lolagi Visinia, Matt Duffy, Ihaia West 1 con, Mark Guyton 1 con)

Marty McKenzie gets the nod as a dangerous Force arrives

The Western Force have frequently been something of a bogey team for the Chiefs and will arrive in Hamilton confident of an upset.

310944-b20b30c6-b1c3-11e3-995d-6099a80e173b

The Chiefs stand second on the New Zealand table.

With the Hurricanes loss to the Brumbies last week, Dave Rennie and his men have moved closer to the top of the table, and a win on Friday night will make playoff contention that little bit easier to imagine.

James Lowe will miss the clash against the Force due to a shoulder injury.

Marty McKenzie has been given the nod and will make his first start of the season in replacement of the injured Aaron Cruden.

Chiefs assistant coach Andrew Strawbridge said that McKenzie has been training specifically for the first five role this year and has earned his starting spot on Friday night by consistent efforts on the practice field.

McKenzie’s selection shouldn’t be questioned either – he was a key part in Taranki’s ITM Cup title last year and is a NZ Maori representative.

McKenzie will take goal kicking duties also, giving Chiefs coaches a good gauge of his skill in putting points on the board from penalties and tries.

Liam Messam will forgo captaincy to Matt Symons due to All Black rest restriction policies.

The Force have traditionally been a team to upset the Chiefs, adding to the clubs poor record against Australian based Super Rugby sides who the Chiefs admit themselves to quite getting the hang of through the years.

“Personally, the Force are a team who scare me”, Strawbridge said.

Friday’s match in Hamilton will observe all Anzac traditions including The Last Post, National Anthems, and a unique 100-person haka to be performed prior to the game as well.

Aaron Cruden “extremely disappointed” to be sidelined

A deflated Aaron Cruden says he will re-evaluate his career goals in the next six months.

aaron-cruden-cropped_1adz0puiihasp19sw23empnu5a

Cruden has committed to NZ Rugby until 2017 but has been ruled out of all rugby for the remainder of the season after rupturing a ligament in his knee.

“Obviously I am extremely disappointed and quite frustrated. This year I had a lot of goals and there is a big world cup on later in the year”, Cruden said.

The injury will require reconstructive surgery.

Cruden says he will spend the recovery time over the next six months setting and re evaluating goals for his career.

“It wasn’t something I had on my radar but that’s sport, I will have to reassess what those goals are now and rip into the foreseeable future”, Cruden said.

The All Blacks had a leadership meeting yesterday and regular starters, including captain Richie McCaw, have all offered support to Cruden.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie says the injury is a big blow to the Chiefs campaign but says there is already a plan for who will fill Cruden’s role on Friday night against the Force.

“We’ve got an idea of who we will play this week so he will get a crack”, Rennie said.