Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

First Take: Playoff footy comes early for Chiefs

Ben Tameifuna of the Chiefs lines up Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Hurricanes at Waikato Stadium. Photo / Getty Images.
Ben Tameifuna of the Chiefs lines up Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Hurricanes at Waikato Stadium. Photo / Getty Images.

CHIEFS 24
HURRICANES 16

Playoff footy came early for the Chiefs. They got in the mood which has not always been with them this season, they got in the grind and showed how tough they can be when faced with sudden-death fortune.

Someone clicked onto the right notes for them and they responded with the sort of accurate unyielding physical rugby which had typified their twin title campaigns.

There was plenty of heat on the Chiefs and the Canes and it was the hosts who delivered more initial concentration.

While Canes like TJ Perenara and Dane Coles were diverted into some niggle the Chiefs marched on, intent on finding damage down route one to open some passing lanes for their backs.

The defences did not allow for much of that, certainly not in the first half where wings were restricted to chasing or defusing kicks.

When they got clear attacking chances they were mesmerised.

Ardie Savea bust a tackle and offloaded to his older brother Julian who watched the pass sail past him across the touchline before Chiefs fullback Tom Marshall hung on and came up short of the line with two men unmarked outside him.

Cooler heads were needed. Enter Aaron Cruden and Brodie Retallick whose calmness under fire has been an enduring feature of their work. Cruden danced past defenders and the workaholic Retallick surged up in support to score.

They have been diamonds all season in a campaign which has rarely glittered but finally suggested some of its old winning lustre.

- NZ Herald

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