Chiefs 26-18 Hurricanes: Super Rugby champions suffer first loss
Last Updated: 10/03/17 1:04pm
The Hurricanes were given a rude awakening from their dream start to the season when they slumped to a 26-18 loss against the Chiefs.
After scoring 24 tries and amassing 154 points in their opening two matches against the Sunwolves and Melbourne Rebels, the Hurricanes struggled in a hard-fought New Zealand derby.
With torrential rain making conditions difficult at Hamilton's Waikato Stadium, the Hurricanes were outplayed and displayed poor discipline, earning two yellow cards.
Each side scored two tries but both of the Hurricanes' efforts came late and served only to add respectability to the scoreline.
The match featured ferocious tackling and plenty of off-the-ball niggle as the competition's two form teams went toe to toe for bragging rights in the New Zealand conference.
But the Chiefs, who had to work hard for their wins over the Highlanders and Blues, proved more battle-hardened in defence.
Damian McKenzie's boot also proved a decisive factor as he kicked four penalties and two conversions for the Chiefs.
Early opportunities were rare in the driving rain, with the Hurricanes up by a single penalty at the 15-minute mark.
The Chiefs then laid siege to the Hurricanes' line, with the Wellington side committing three penalties before referee Brendon Pickerill lost patience and sent Ardie Savea to the sin bin.
The one-man advantage allowed the Chiefs to break through for the opening try as Brodie Retallick barged over the line.
Savea was just about to end his spell on the sideline when lock Michael Fatialofa became the second Hurricane shown a yellow card after a shoulder charge on Nepo Laulala.
The Chiefs struck through Toni Pulu just before half-time, the winger outpacing three defenders as he chased down Tawera Kerr-Barlow's perfectly weighted chip kick to give the hosts a 17-6 interval lead.
The Hurricanes finally sparked into life in the 65th minute when TJ Perenara burst from the back of a driving maul and somehow managed to get his outstretched arm through the defence for a try.
They continued to press but a Damian McKenzie penalty with five minutes on the clock sealed the result for the Hurricanes, despite a consolation try to Julian Savea.
McKenzie slotted his fourth penalty after the siren to stretch the winning margin to eight and deny the Hurricanes a bonus point.