Rugby: Chiefs cruise to win over Lions

By Steven Holloway

Sonny Bill Williams of the Chiefs looks to pass during the round 11 Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Lions. Photo / Getty Images.
Sonny Bill Williams of the Chiefs looks to pass during the round 11 Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Lions. Photo / Getty Images.

CHIEFS 34
LIONS 21

A rejigged Chiefs side rolled into Pukekohe tonight and didn't miss a beat, cruising to a 34-21 win over the Lions in-front of 12,363 boisterous fans at ECOLight Stadium.

With several changes to the pack, the Chiefs tacitly admitted this was the perfect opportunity to rest aching bodies and offer fringe players a rare opportunity - but it was the old guard of Aaron Cruden, Richard Kahui and Sonny Bill Williams who did the damage for the Chiefs with an impressive display of running rugby.

The contrast between the two sides could not have been greater - the Chiefs sit atop the Super Rugby table having now won nine in a row after losing their opening match, while the Lions lie second from bottom after winning the opening match, but losing every one since.

They are only ahead of the Blues at this stage because they have had both their byes which each carry with them four competition points.

And the difference showed with Cruden, Craig Clarke, Lelia Masaga and Brendon Leonard all running in classy tries.

Cruden had another exceptional night with the boot, completing all six of his six kicks on the night.

With the win the Chiefs have equaled their best ever season of nine wins, and they are only just past the halfway mark in the season.

For the Chiefs Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Kane Thompson, Sam Cane and Tanerau Latimer all impressed in their quest to establish a permanent starting role.

The Chiefs opened the scoring with two early Cruden penalties sprinkled amongst some solid close-line defending from both sides.

Cruden then finished off some slick build up play to touch down in the left corner before converting his try to open up an early 13-point lead.

Skipper Clarke added to the score when he was first on the scene to support a bustling Williams run and hurried the ball over the line from close range before Cruden added the extras.

The Lions pulled one back soon after when Cobus Grobbelaar drove over off the back of a rolling maul following a lineout. Elton Jantjies then made his first contribution with an excellent kick from out wide to close the gap.

Cruden then took the game by the scruff of its neck, producing a slick chip and chase in midfield before offloading to Masaga who finished off the sweeping move. Cruden restored the Chiefs 20 point lead with an easy conversion.

But the Lions would not give up and skipper Joshua Strauss pulled one straight back when he was too big and too powerful from close range.

Just as quickly Leonard snatched one back for the Chiefs, sliding onto a loose ball and letting his momentum take him over the line. Cruden didn't miss a beat with his conversion, knocking over his sixth of the night.

Despite facing an uphill task the Lions showed great spirit and were rewarded when Grobbelaar picked up his second try of the night and his team's third, driving over from close range to close the gap to 13 points.

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