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Chiefs back on top
Tries from Masaga and Nanai-Williams see off Force
The Chiefs are back on the top of the Super 15 table following a gritty 20-12 success over Western Force at nib Stadium.
The Force had their tails up going into the game on the back of a 45-19 thrashing of the Reds, but could not replicate that performance as the Chiefs secured a tight victory.
Wingers Lelia Masaga and Tim Nanai-Williams scored tries to help the Chiefs win their fifth consecutive game and move to first place overall, at least until the Highlanders play the Stormers on Saturday.
Aaron Cruden also slotted two penalties and two conversions for the visitors, whose dominance of the early part of the game through their expansive back play and impressive forward display against a highly-regarded Force pack was not reflected on the scoreboard.
Only the boot of full-back David Harvey, who appeared to dislocate a finger in the first half but still slotted four of his five penalty goal attempts, kept the Force in it as they rarely threatened the try line before lifting in the final 20 minutes.
There was real heat in the contest early, highlighted by an incident just five minutes in when Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna dragged Nathan Sharpe out of a ruck by grabbing the lock's helmet, and the visitors' aggression saw them give away a simple penalty to hand the Force an early lead.
But the Hamilton-based side enjoyed the run of play early and took advantage when a spectacular Aaron Cruden run broke the line and he offloaded to Masaga for the try.
A menacing Chiefs attack looked like scoring nearly every time they had the ball, let down only by some simple ball-handling errors in a first half they had 61 per cent of possession and territory in, but they could not ensure that was reflected on the scoreboard and led only 7-6 at the break.
But finally the Chiefs made their dominance count after the break when they worked the ball out and after Sonny Bill Williams drew five defenders and the former rugby league star popped the ball inside back to Nanai-Williams for the try.
A pair of Harvey penalties sandwiched a Cruden goal kept the Force in the contest and they did lift after the second try but it was their turn to fail to make it count.
Cruden slotted another three-pointer with 12 minutes left to extend their advantage to eight and allow the Kiwis to hold on for their fifth win from six games.
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|Friday 6th March|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Highlanders|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Western Force|
|Saturday 7th March|
|06:35||Blues vs Lions|
|08:40||Reds vs Waratahs|
|15:05||Cheetahs vs Bulls|
|17:10||Stormers vs Sharks|
|Friday 13th March|
|06:35||Hurricanes vs Blues|
|11:00||Western Force vs Melbourne Rebels|
|Saturday 14th March|
|03:30||Crusaders vs Lions|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Waratahs|
|08:40||Reds vs Brumbies|
|13:00||Stormers vs Chiefs|
|15:05||Cheetahs vs Sharks|
|Friday 20th March|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Hurricanes|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Lions|
|Saturday 21st March|
|06:35||Crusaders vs Cheetahs|
|15:05||Bulls vs Western Force|
|17:10||Sharks vs Chiefs|
|Sunday 22nd March|
|05:05||Waratahs vs Brumbies|
|Friday 27th March|
|06:35||Hurricanes vs Melbourne Rebels|
|09:00||Reds vs Lions|
|Saturday 28th March|
|05:30||Chiefs vs Cheetahs|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Stormers|
|08:40||Waratahs vs Blues|
|15:05||Sharks vs Western Force|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Lions 19 - 22 Stormers|
|Bulls 43 - 35 Sharks|
|Melbourne Rebels 15 - 20 Brumbies|
|Chiefs 40 - 16 Crusaders|
|Friday 27th February|
|Cheetahs 25 - 24 Blues|
|Western Force 13 - 42 Hurricanes|
|Highlanders 20 - 13 Reds|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Sharks 29 - 12 Lions|
|Stormers 27 - 16 Blues|
|Reds 18 - 6 Western Force|
|Highlanders 20 - 26 Crusaders|
|Friday 20th February|
|Bulls 13 - 17 Hurricanes|
|Melbourne Rebels 28 - 38 Waratahs|
|Chiefs 19 - 17 Brumbies|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Waratahs 13 - 25 Western Force|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Bulls 17 - 29 Stormers|
|Sharks 29 - 35 Cheetahs|
|Blues 18 - 23 Chiefs|
|Friday 13th February|
|Lions 8 - 22 Hurricanes|
|Brumbies 47 - 3 Reds|
|Crusaders 10 - 20 Melbourne Rebels|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com