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Chiefs 20 Blues 13
Chiefs – Narawa 2 tries; McKenzie 2 conversions & 2 penalties
Blues – Riccitelli & Clarke tries; Barrett penalty
40th minute – Blues need a converted try to force golden point extra-time.
Chiefs scrum holds, Sotutu charges towards the tryline and the Blues surge towards the posts.
Blues build phases, but Clarke spills the ball and that’s the game.
39th minute – Chiefs wheel the scrum…
38th minute – Blues call for the scrum inside the 22. Nock finds Barrett, who kicks to the tryline for Clarke.
Chiefs scramble the ball dead and Blues have a five-metre scrum. This is the game right now.
37th minute – BLues win the lineout, Sullivan is drilled in a tackle and Gardner has penalty advantage. Tuipulotu lunges for the line, but knocks on, so back for the penalty.
36th minute – Nock gets tangled up with Dyer on his side of the ruck and Gardner awards the penalty, Barrett immediately kicks to the 22.
35th minute – Tuipulotu is holding his left arm and receives additional strapping to his elbow.
Finau wins the lineout for the Chiefs and McKenzie kicks long to Barrett, who finds Perofeta. Blues shift right.
34th minute – Blues are only metres out, but Robinson cleans out from the side of the ruck and is penalised. Another blown opportunity.
33rd minute – Eklund throws to Tuipulotu at the front of the lineout. Nock releases to Plummer and Eklund drives forward in midfield.
32nd minute – Chiefs are penalised outside their 22 and Barrett will look to the corner.
31st minute – Chiefs clear the scrum and Stevenson kicks deep. Barrett kicks high, McKenzie spills it forward and Nock kicks ahead to the tryline, where Ratima forces for a goal-line dropout.
30th minute – Blues are near the 22 and shift left, where Clarke enters the 22. Robinson is next up, but there’s a knock on from Darry, as he tries to pick and go.
29th minute – BLues win a lineout on halfway and Nock darts through the middle of the forwards.
28th minute – Chiefs wheel the scrum and Blues have a knockon advantage. Papalii surges down the right, and McKenzie and Barrett are struggling.
27th minute – From a scrum on the 22, Chiefs go right and Ah Kuoi surges forward. Ah Kuoi carries again, but loses the ball forward.
26th minute – Retallick wins the lineout and McKenzie kicks high, but Perofeta drops it cold.
25th minute – Thompson’s throw is picked off by the Blues. Tuipulotu losses the ball and Ratima kicks downfield into the 22.
Blues take a quick throw-in and Clarke finds touch near halfway.
24th minute – Tuungafasi is down for attention to his knee. Ah Kuoi wins the lineout, the Chiefs maul surges forward and have penalty advantage.
23rd minute – Blues are harried off the ball on the tryline and are penalised for offside. McKenzie finds touch beyond the 22.
22nd minute – Suafoa wins the ball at the back of the lineout, Christie runs off the back.
21st minute – From the scrum, Blues go left, where Perofeta links with Clarke. Blues have penalty advantage and Gardner comes back.
Barrett kicks for the corner, as Cane hobbles off. Clarke wishes him well, nice touch.
20th minute – Replays show Cane copped Barrett’s knee in the crown jewels. Hope he doesn’t need stitches.
18th minute – Tuiulotu wins a lineout near the Chiefs 10. Barrett kicks high to the 22, Narawa juggles, but recovers.
Barrett and Cane remain down, after that kick. Gardner stops play.
17th minute – From the scrum, Christie runs right, but Sotutu carries left and puts a kick to the tryline. McKenzie slides to ground the ball, but Christie falls on him and is penalised.
16th minute – Laulala goes down in a tackle and Retallick is over the top. The ball is wrenched free and Retallick is called for the knockon.
15th minute – Chiefs replace their props, Tuipulotu is on for the BLues and so is Sullivan.
Blues win the lineout and build phases.
14th minute – BLues shunt forward at the scrum and win a penalty. Barrett finds touch inside the Chiefs 22.
13th minute – Thompson has replaced Taukei’aho, but his first throw is crooked, so Blues have a scrum near halfway.
12th minute – Blues secure the kickoff, Perofeta kicks across the field to Clarke, who finds Sotutu, but Ioane can’t handle his pass.
11th minute – Barrett slots one from in front, CHI 20-13
10th minute – Papalii points to the posts, but who will take the kick?
Ninth minute – Big Blues scrum wins a penalty, but Christie lofts a pass to Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens. Ioane loses the ball over the line, so Gardner brings them back for the penalty.
Eighth minute – McKenzie’s dropout goes into touch on the full. Blues want a five-metre scrum.
Seventh minute – Blues edge towards the 22 and Ioane splits the defence. Blues shift right to Papalii, but he’s held up in the corner.
Sixth minute – Clarke chases Perofeta’s kickoff and Blues have the ball.
Fifth minute – McKenzie attempts a shot at goal from inside his own half and slots it. He’s winning the battle of the No.10s, CHI 20-10
Fourth minute – Big Blues push, but Weber clears to Narawa, who kicks deep to Barrett. McKenzie fields Barrett’s return kick and Gardner penalises the Blues props for being offside at the kick.
Third minute – Scrum wheels, so reset.
Second minute – From the scrum, Clarke runs a hard line, but spills the ball, so Chiefs now the feed to a midfielder scrum. Early mistakes from both teams.
First minute – Perofeta kicks off for the second half and Retallick spills the catch, gifting an early scrum feed to the Blues.
40th minute – Chiefs win a lineout and maul forward. They build phases outside the 22, but lose the ball backwards.
As the siren sounds, they’ve retreated back over halfway and McKenzie decides discretion is better than valour, kicking to touch to end the half.
38th minute – Chiefs win a lineout, McKenzie kicks high and Perofeta has wings. Barrett’s kick evades McKenzie, but he eventually claims it and Poihipi kicks downfield.
37th minute – Ball goes loose and Chiefs lose ground, Darry steals the ball and Riccitelli hacks downfield. Barrett eventually finds touch near halfway.
36th minute – Chiefs have a scrum feed inside the Blues 22, Weber releases left, but McKenzie runs into a wall of defenders.
34th minute – Heavy rain falling now, but Chiefs have yet to make a handlin error. From the scrum, Nanai-Seturo kicks long to Barrett and McKenzie takes the return kick.
McKenzie’s kick bounces badly for Perofeta and replays show he knocked on.
33rd minute – Blues into the 22, but Perofeta is held up in a maul and Chiefs win the turnover. Perofeta was caught out, when Ioane ran an interfering line that prevented him passing to the outsides.
32nd minute – Barrett finds touch near the Chiefs 22 and Suafoa wins the lineout. Christie releases to Plummer and Riccitellis carries in midfield.
31st minute – In fact, Barrett’s clearance reaches halfway, where Chiefs win the lineout, but Taukei’aho replays the ball after a tackle and is penalised.
30th minute – Barrett kicks to halfway and Narawa breaks up the middle of the park, eventually tackled by Sotutu. McKenzie kicks to the tryline, but Barrett clears beyond the 22.
29th minute – Taukei’aho’s throw is claimed by Retallick and McKenzie kicks high. Perofeta climbs for the catch.
28th minute – Perofeta kicks off and Retallick claims the catch. Chiefs win a clearing penalty and McKenzie finds touch on halfway.
25th minute – TRY to Narawa
Chiefs win a lineout and maul towards the Blues 22. Taukei’aho bursts towards the tryline, but slips, and when the Chiefs shift right, Narawa reaches out to score in the corner.
McKenzie slots another sideline conversion, CHI 17-10
24th minute – Weber darts off the scrum and kicks ahead to the tryline. Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens swoops and clears.
23rd minute – Barrett’s dropout is contestable and won by Clarke. Blues clear, but Chiefs counterattack.
McKenzie loses the ball in a tackle, but Gardner rules a Blues knockon – that was Segner up quickly.
22nd minute – Chiefs still outside the 22, but Weber crosses. After 10 phases, McKenzie kicks to the goal-line and Christie forces for a dropout.
21st minute – From the scrum, Weber goes right and Tauki’aho barrels forward.
20th minute – Suafoa steals the Chiefs lineout throw, but Barrett knocks on and Chiefs can launch from a scrum in centrefield, just outside the 22.
19th minute – McKenzie kicks off and Blues need to retain possession, after losing it twice already at this phase. Christie clears to the Blues 10.
17th minute – TRY to Clarke
Sotutu comes off the back of the scrum, but Cane meets him. Blues spread right and then left, where Plummer puts Clarke over near the corner, sliding under a couple of tackles.
Barrett’s wide conversion stays left again, 10-10
15th minute – Blues go for a scrum from the penalty. They shove forward and win the penalty advantage.
Gardner comes back for the penalty and Blues opt for another scrum, putting pressure on Gardner to use his yellow card.
14th minute – Darry wins the lineout at the back and Blues have penalty advantag, as they maul to the line. Christie looks left to Barrett, but Vaa’i tackles him before he forces it and replays show Barrett’s foot cuts the deadball line.
Gardner comes back for the penalty and he warns Cane about the persistent infringing.
13th minute – Perofeta kicks off, Narawa takes the ball into the tackle and Sotutu gets over the top for a penalty turnover. Barrett kicks to the corner.
12th minute – Replays show Laulala smashed McKenzie in a legal tackle, but the little No.10 bounces back up and slots this kick, CHI 10-5
11th minute – McKenzie kicks off, Perofeta gets the ball and the Chiefs forwards at the same time, and loses the ball. Chiefs back on attack and have a penalty.
McKenzie points to the posts…
Eighth minute – TRY to Riccitelli
Scrum collapses and Blues have penalty advantage. Sotutu drives to the tryline, and Riccitelli picks and goes from the ruck, driven over by his fellow forwards.
Barrett’s conversion attempt is a shocker, shewed left, CHI 7-5
Seventh minute – Barrett kicks to the corner for another lineout. Riccitelli’s throw isn’t straight, but Gardner has the Chiefs for closing the gap.
Blues opt for a scrum.
Sixth minute – McKenzie drops out, Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens fields and Blues lay seige to the 22, winning a penalty.
Fifth minute – Chiefs win a defensive lineout and Nanai-Seturo finds touch near the 22. Sotutu wins the lineout, but Riccitellis is isolated and forced back.
Barrett kicks to the corner and Chiefs have to force for a goal-line dropout.
Fourth minute – Darry wins the lineout, but the BLues maul is held up. Christie releases to Plummer and Sotutu is next to carry.
Quick hands from Riccitelli gets the ball to Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, but he’s shunted into touch.
Third minute – Blues get the ball back from the kickoff and Chiefs are penalised at the ruck for interfering with Christie. They’re marched back 10 metres and Blues kick to the corner.
First minute – Aussie Angus Gardner will officiate this match tonight. Rain has subsided in Hamilton, but the surface is slippery.
TRY to Narawa
McKenzie kicks off for the Chiefs and Darry loses the slippery ball to Norris. Chiefs burst upfield and Narawa slides over in the corner, but Gardner checks the touchline.
Replays show Narawa stayed in the field of play to foce for the first try within 30 seconds. McKenzie slots the sideline conversion, CHI 7-0
7:01pm – Latish change sees Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens into the starting XV for AJ Lam.
Kia ora, good evening and welcome to Newshub’s live coverage of the Super Rugby Pacific clash between the Chiefs and Blues at Hamilton’s FMG Stadium.
The home side find themselves atop the competition table, looking down on their challengers, after compiling an unblemished record through the opening five weeks of the season.
After ACT Brumbies tumbled to the Crusaders last week, the Chiefs are now the only unbeaten side left, but face a stern test against the team many picked to finally break their Super Rugby duck and claim the title this year.
The fixture doubles as a virtual All Blacks trial, with internationals matched up across the park. Most interest will centre on the head-to-head between All Blacks captain Sam Cane and challenger Dalton Papalii.
At halfback, Brad Weber and Finlay Christie compete for a place as Aaron Smith’s All Blacks understudy, while Damian McKenzie and Beauden Barrett are candidates for the No.10 jersey, along with Crusaders incumbent Richie Mo’unga.
Join us at 7pm for kickoff.
TAB Odds: Chiefs $1.67, Blues $2.25, draw $18
Chiefs: 1-Ollie Norris, 2-Samisoni Taukei’aho, 3-John Ryan, 4-Brodie Retallick, 5-Tupou Vaa’i, 6- Samipeni Finau, 7-Sam Cane (CC), 8-Luke Jacobson, 9-Brad Weber (CC), 10-Damian McKenzie, 11-Etene Nanai-Seturo, 12-Rameka Poihipi, 13-Daniel Rona, 14-Emoni Narawa, 15-Shaun Stevenson
Reserves: 16-Tyrone Thompson, 17-Aidan Ross, 18-George Dyer, 19-Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20-Pita Gus Sowakula, 21-Cortez Ratima, 22-Bryn Gatland, 23-Liam Coombes-Fabling
Blues: 1-Jordan Lay, 2-Ricky Riccitelli, 3-Nepo Laulala, 4-Cameron Suafoa, 5-Sam Darry, 6-Anton Segner, 7-Dalton Papalii (c), 8-Hoskins Sotutu, 9-Finlay Christie, 10-Beauden Barrett, 11-Caleb Clarke, 12-Harry Plummer, 13-Rieko Ioane, 14-AJ Lam, 15-Stephen Perofeta
Reserves: 16-Kurt Eklund, 17-Ofa Tuungafasi, 18-James Lay, 19-Patrick Tuipulotu, 20-Tom Robinson, 21-Sam Nock, 22-Corey Evans, 23-Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens/Zarn Sullivan
Chiefs reap rewards of good health, selection consistency in Super Rugby start
Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan is clearly relishing his unblemished record atop Super Rugby Pacific standings after five rounds.
When so-called experts put forward their pre-season prognostications for the 2023 competition, most probably anticipated a repeat of last year’s final between the six-time defending champion Crusaders and the pipped-at-the-post challenger Blues.
At best, the Chiefs – third in the 2022 regular season and beaten in the semis – qualified as afterthoughts, but they wasted no time overturning that assessment, toppling the Crusaders in their season-opener and adding four more scalps in ensuing weeks.
The performance hasn’t always been pretty, but they are now the only unbeaten side left, as they approach another season-defining encounter against their northern neighbours on Saturday.
McMillan is clear on where he has seen the improvements this campaign.
“It certainly helps that we haven’t had a sh*tload of injuries,” he reflected. “We’ve had our fair share.
“We’ve struggled in the midfield… we’ve done exceptionally well, but it’s obviously hurt us, because we haven’t been able to rotate the two guys that have clocked up big minutes.
“Consistency in selection, an ounce of luck with injuries, a good pre-season… I think we’ve got continuity of staff, so there’s a lot of good stuff that we’ve been able to produce over the last couple of years that mean our starting point has been accelerated.
“We’ve seen the fruits of that labour in the first part of the competition.”
In recent years, the Chiefs have been devastated by injury, forcing them to dig deep into their squad. While that hasn’t helped in the short term, that dire need has helped prepare fringe players for bigger roles in the future.
Anton Lienert-Brown suffers an ankle sprain against Crusaders. Photo credit: Getty Images
Probably the biggest casualty so far has been All Blacks midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown, who sat out most of last season with a shoulder injury and has been sidelined by an ankle sprain since the season-opener.
He’s still a couple of weeks away from a return, while fellow international Quinn Tupaea will miss the season altogether, as he recovers from knee damage suffered during Darcy Swain’s illegal cleanout against Australia last September.
In their absence, Alex Nankivell has continued to enhance his reputation, but McMillan must rely on a raw combination of Rameka Poihipi and and Daniel Rona against the Blues.
The relative lack of injuries has had a roll-on effect on the form of Chiefs stars Sam Cane, Brodie Retallick and Damian McKenzie, who have set the tone for teammates in their winning run.
After battling all manner of physical setbacks, Cane, 31, is back to his best to meet the challenge presented by Blues counterpart Dalton Papalii for his All Blacks No.7 jersey at this year’s Rugby World Cup.
‘I think he’s been performing exceptionally well and, to be fair, all our All Blacks have been playing well, which has played a big part in us getting off to a good start,” insisted McMillan.
“They set the example at training, they set the example off the field and when it comes to the game, their experience really comes to the fore.
“You’re either a little bit blind, or deaf and dumb, if you don’t observe what an athlete operating at the highest level of the game is demonstrating. There are some really good learnings for our young men over the last couple of years, seeing those guys in action.”
One of those soaking up the lessons is fullback Shaun Stevenson, whose irrepressible form has him knocking on the door of national selection.
“I’d be surprised if he wasn’t in the conversation,” said McMillan. “There are a number of guys who have received injuries that have advanced his cause, but he can only do what he can control – the other stuff is peripheral.
“Big boot, X-factor on attack, but it’s probably his willingness to get into the combat areas of the game. I’ve seen a bit shift in him in that regard.
“Overall, he’s a confident rugby player and when he’s confident, he’s dangerous.”