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Super Rugby: Chiefs draw closer to summit with 32-20 win over Blues
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Chiefs maintained pressure on Super Rugby leaders the Sharks with a 32-20 bonus-point victory over the Blues at Yarrow Stadium on Friday.
Ben Tameifuna scored twice while Tim Nanai-Williams and Tom Marshall also touched down as the Chiefs moved level on points with the table-topping Sharks, who face the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.
The sides exchanged tries in the opening 10 minutes before the Chiefs stamped their authority on the clash to take a deserved 20-13 lead into the break.
Two tries in quick succession following the restart took the game away from the Blues, who had made a fast start after taking the lead through Lolagi Visinia.
Visinia sent the visitors in front after just six minutes courtesy of a neat offload from in-form centre Ma'a Nonu.
The Blues winger struggled to catch the ball on his first attempt but cleanly regained possession to touch down and receive approval from the TMO, before Simon Hickey slotted the extras.
Just four minutes later, the Chiefs seized the initiative from a Blues mistake with Tameifuna crashing over in the left corner and Gareth Anscombe made no mistakes from the kicking tee.
The Chiefs doubled their try tally and moved into the lead after Nanai-Williams broke the Blues defensive line to race home.
Fly-half Anscombe added his second conversion of the night, before extending the Chiefs lead to 10 with a penalty after the Blues were caught in an offside position.
Hickey struck back with two penalties in quick succession to reduce the Blues deficit to seven at the break.
Chiefs took the game away from the Blues in the opening 10 minutes of the second period as Tameifuna and Marshall both crossed the whitewash.
After the hosts claimed a second-minute line-out, Tameifuna was released to charge home his second of the night, before the Chiefs broke from deep with a thrilling team move.
Nanai-Williams and Bundee Aki combined in a flowing play which was neatly finished by Marshall as the Chiefs raced to a 19-point lead.
The Blues were handed a lifeline with 15 minutes to play as centre Nanai-Williams was sent to the sin bin for killing the ball and the visitors made their personnel advantage pay.
Less than a minute had passed when centre George Moala forced his way over the line to bring the Blues within 12 points.
The Blues maintained their spirited fight back beyond the klaxon but were unable to break the Chiefs defence as they left New Plymouth empty-handed; while the hosts remain second, behind the Sharks, in the Super Rugby table due to their inferior score difference.Super 15. Click here to bet.
|Saturday 2nd August|
|Waratahs 33 - 32 Crusaders|
|Saturday 26th July|
|Waratahs 26 - 8 Brumbies|
|Crusaders 38 - 6 Sharks|
|Saturday 19th July|
|Sharks 31 - 27 Highlanders|
|Brumbies 32 - 30 Chiefs|
|Saturday 12th July|
|Stormers 10 - 34 Sharks|
|Lions 60 - 25 Cheetahs|
|Reds 3 - 34 Waratahs|
|Crusaders 34 - 8 Highlanders|
|Friday 11th July|
|Bulls 40 - 7 Melbourne Rebels|
|Brumbies 47 - 25 Western Force|
|Blues 8 - 11 Chiefs|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com