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Chiefs back on top
Chiefs ease to win of Hurricanes to go top of the table
The Chiefs stormed to a 33-14 victory over the Hurricanes to extend their lead at the top of the New Zealand Conference and move to the top of the Super Rugby table.
Aaron Cruden kicked 18 points for the hosts, and Lelia Masaga, Arizona Taumalolo and Toby Smith completed the scoring for the Chiefs.
Full-back Andre Taylor scored the Hurricanes' only try of the game on the 34th minute. Beau Barrett missed the conversion but did kick three penalties.
His try means prop Taumalolo continues his remarkable try-scoring record, touching down for the seventh time in nine matches.
Taumalolo burrowed over the Hurricanes' goal line in the 65th minute after Cruden had made a 40-meter break to put the Chiefs onto the attack. Cruden also had a hand in Waikato's final try, from Taumalolo's replacement Toby Smith, extending a winning streak which stretches back to the first week of the season.
The Chiefs were expected to face problems of fatigue as they returned home after an unbeaten three-match road trip to Australia and South Africa.
But they produced an outstanding ball-handling performance, particularly among their forwards, to dominate territory and control the match. Far from fading, they grew stronger as the match progressed and finished with tries to Taumalolo and Smith in the last 15 minutes.
Only one of the Chiefs' three tries was scored by a back. Winger Lelia Masaga scored their first in the 45th minute when he took the ball at first receiver on the openside of an attacking scrum and ghosted through a gap between scrumhalf T.J. Perenara and fly-half Beauden Barrett.
Cruden kicked his first four penalties in succession to give the Chiefs a 12-3 lead after 27 minutes, before the Hurricanes scored the opening try against the run of play to cut the lead to 12-8 at half-time.
Outstanding full-back Andre Taylor scored the try, also his seventh of the season, as a series of quick, long passes gave him space and he beat three tacklers.
Masaga's try gave the Chiefs a 19-8 lead early in the second half and, after the Hurricanes had closed to 19-14 with two penalties to Barrett, the finely honed try-scoring instinct of Taumalolo helped decide the match.
Cruden and replacement scrum-half Augustine Pulu made telling breaks in the move leading to Smith's try and Cruden added the conversion, his seventh goal from eight attempts.
"I'm just happy we could get a win and keep the ball rolling," said Waikato captain Craig Clarke, who played his 50th Super 15 match. "They're a very good team and we just wanted to hold the ball, which we did a bit, and kick a few penalties."
The Hurricanes lost for fifth time in nine matches.
"We were pretty happy with the way the first half went," Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith said.
"A few things didn't go our way ... but we were still in the hunt. If anything they turned it up in the second half, and I think we fell away a bit which is a little bit annoying."
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|06:35||Crusaders vs Melbourne Rebels|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Reds|
|17:10||Lions vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 14th February|
|06:35||Blues vs Chiefs|
|15:05||Sharks vs Cheetahs|
|17:05||Bulls vs Stormers|
|Sunday 15th February|
|06:05||Waratahs vs Western Force|
|Friday 20th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Brumbies|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Waratahs|
|17:10||Bulls vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 21st February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Reds vs Western Force|
|15:05||Stormers vs Blues|
|17:10||Sharks vs Lions|
|Friday 27th February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Reds|
|11:00||Western Force vs Hurricanes|
|17:10||Cheetahs vs Blues|
|Saturday 28th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Brumbies|
|15:05||Bulls vs Sharks|
|17:10||Lions vs Stormers|
|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|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com