The Hurricanes defeated the Chiefs 21-13 today at the Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth in New Zealand on Saturday. It was the clash of the leaders of the New Zealand conference although the Hamilton outfit was looking to secure a home game and was needing a 37 point winning margin to guarantee one. It was a physical and intense contest in the first 20 minutes as both teams played an aggressive game up front and an expansive game in the backs, with the Chiefs having had the better of the exchanges with more territory.
But it was a mix up by the Canes that led to the first try of the match as forward Jeremy Thrush popped the ball over eighthman James Lowe who had come in to clean up the ruck, only for the ball to land in winger Bryce Heem’s grateful hands to run in 40-odd metres for a converted try. Four minutes later flyhalf Marty McKenzie converted a penalty after an infringement in the scrum. The best chance for the Wellington side was created by fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder when he offloaded around the legs of the Chiefs defence in the tackle to winger Julian Savea who was shoulder charged by flyhalf Justin Marshall into touch.
Upon review it was adjudged an illegal tackle and a penalty try was awarded to the Hurricanes and Marshall was sin-binned. A dubious call on face value but correct to the rule of law. The sudden change of the complexion of the game saw the first clean delivery of line up ball by the Canes to flyhalf Marshall drifting to his left, stepping inside to accelerate into a big gaping hole that was supposed to be the Chiefs defensive line for the flyhalf to pass to outside centre and captain Conrad Smith for a converted try.
It was 14-13 to the Canes at half-time. The Chiefs had dominated every aspect of the game that mattered namely in gainline successes, territory and won more turnovers but all that good work was undone when influential Hurricanes flyhalf James Marshall read the game well and he intercepted a pass from McKenzie 35 metres out to run in for an easy converted try. The Wellington franchise took a 21-13 lead within five minutes of the restart.
Debutant Sam McNichol was denied his first Super rugby try in the 56th minute for going to ground in the tackle and not releasing the ball before stepping off his left to the inside to beat the Chiefs defence for the try, a 50-50 call by the referee that on another day could’ve been interpreted differently. In the 68th minute the Hamilton franchise had an oppounity to get back in the contest as they worked an overlap after six phases to their right where McKenzie drew the defence only to pass out wide to flanker Nick Crosswell into space within five metres of the try line only for the latter to regrettable knock-on.
The Hurricanes held on for a 21-13 win over the Chiefs cementing their top of the table place.