Chiefs extend win streak to 6 games in Super Rugby Pacific
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Winger Emoni Narawa scored two first-half tries for the Hamilton, New Zealand-based Chiefs who extended their winning start to the Super Rugby Pacific season to six matches Saturday with a 20-13 win over the Auckland-based Blues.
The Chiefs’ 6-0 start is a record for the club and after the win over the Blues includes wins over both of last year’s finalists.
Narawa scored his first try only 26 seconds into the match and added his second as the Chiefs took a 17-10 lead to halftime.
The Chiefs then held out the Blues in a second half in which both teams managed only a penalty goal. The Blues were hard on the attack at the end, hoping to score a converted try to take the match to extra time.
But Blues winger Caleb Clarke, a try-scorer earlier, knocked on the ball in the last play of the game and the Chiefs held on to win a match known as the Battle of the Bombays for the range of hills which separates Auckland from Hamilton.
"It was good to (score) about 30 seconds in which was a great start,” Chiefs captain Brad Weber said. “To be honest, we owed these guys one after last year. They embarrassed us on our home turf so I think you could see the desperation in the defense in the second half. That was what that was all about.”
All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett had one of his worst matches for the Blues with muffed goal kicks, handling errors, tactical mistakes and poor general kicking which cost the Blues in a tight match.
The poor handling spread throughout the Blues team and many of Barrett’s All Blacks teammates among the Blues were equally guilty of spilling possession when scoring chances were close.
“We always know it’s going to be a big job coming down here,” Blues captain Dalton Papali’i said. “Every game against these guys is a test match. The boys prepared well but we just didn’t execute some moments out there and it cost us.”
Earlier, the Fijian Drua started fast and opened a 33-7 lead at halftime over the Melbourne Rebels, then held on to win 38-28 for their third win of the season. The Drua won two matches in their debut season last year.
Ilaisa Droasese scored the Drua’s opening try in the first minute at Suva and an intercept try to Selestino Ravutaumada and a length-of-the field try completed by Vilive Miramira gave the Drua a 19-0 lead after 15 minutes.
The Rebels hit back with a try but Iosefo Masi and Kitione Salawa scored tries which made the Drua’s lead emphatic by halftime.
The Rebels came back into the match with four second-half tries but Elia Canakaivata scored a try which extended the Drua lead to 38-14 midway through the second half and clinched the match.
In the final match Saturday, t he ACT Brumbies held on to beat the New South Wales Waratahs 40-36. It was the 11th straight win for the Brumbies over the Waratahs, who led for most of the match.
“Pretty disappointed, I thought we did well for large parts of the game but a bit unlucky there,” Waratahs captain Jake Gordon said.
The Brumbies, who have won five of their six matches this season, reclaimed second place in the standings from the Wellington-based Hurricanes, who host the Western Force on Sunday to conclude the sixth round.
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