Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Chiefs stay top on free flowing weekend

Asaeli Tikoirotuma of the Chiefs dives over to score a try during the round 15 Super Rugby match between the Blues and the Chiefs at North Harbour Stadium. Photo / Getty Images.
Asaeli Tikoirotuma of the Chiefs dives over to score a try during the round 15 Super Rugby match between the Blues and the Chiefs at North Harbour Stadium. Photo / Getty Images.

Far from teams tightening up as they scrap for play-off positions, the weekend saw an avalanche of tries capped off by the Chiefs' big win over the Blues.

In an absorbing game at North Harbour Stadium last night, the Chiefs beat the Blues 41-34 in a match which was a triumph for attack over defence.

Both teams scored four-try bonus points, with Chiefs wing Aseali Tikoirotuma earning one on his own as he became the 11th player in Super Rugby history to score four tries in a match. For the Blues, there was the bonus of two points in a loss that represented one of their best performances of the season.

While Tikoirotuma and Sonny Bill Williams starred for the Chiefs, the Blues' revival was sparked by Rene Ranger and Rudi Wulf, both of whom have been bothered by injuries this season. Ranger looked to be back to his dangerous self with an individual try from 50m out and Wulf also dotted down.

Unfortunately for the Blues, though, the Lions' remarkable 38-28 mauling of the Sharks in Johannesburg means Pat Lam's men are again rock bottom on the points table. The four tries to three win by John Mitchell's men against a team which still has play-off pretensions came completely out of the blue - it was only their second victory of the season.

Not to be outdone, the Hurricanes followed the Chiefs' lead when beating the Waratahs 33-12 in Sydney. Tries from Chris Eaton, Motu Matu'u, Julian Savea and Conrad Smith sealed the surprisingly easy win and the five competition points catapults them into sixth place on the table.

Their next task, after a four-week break for the June internationals, is a date in Christchurch against the Crusaders, not one for the faint-hearted these days.

Todd Blackadder's players followed up their humiliation of the Blues, in which they put 50 points on their old rivals, with a 51-18 victory over the Highlanders. They showed no signs of rust from their previous week's bye and look to be hitting ominous form. It remains to be seen how the international break will effect their momentum, but they will fancy their chances of five points against the Hurricanes when Super Rugby resumes for them on June 30.

The Crusaders moved to fourth on the table and halfback Andy Ellis, whose excellent form recently failed to get him selected for the All Blacks squad to play Ireland, said his side was coming right at last.

"One thing we've talked about is ramping it up," he said. "We feel like our season has been a little bit up and down and because it's such a long season that's what probably happens. There are 15 games or something and you can't get up and play great rugby every week. But you can for what is now three weeks or four weeks left. Now we can ramp it up because we can see an end."

In an important encounter in Pretoria, the Stormers came from behind to beat the Bulls 19-14 and maintain their position at the top of the South African conference. The Bulls, up 14-9 with about 15 minutes to go, appeared to show the effects of their travel back from New Zealand as they faded badly, Bryan Habana going over for the Stormers to seal it.

The Brumbies battled to a 27-19 win over the Rebels in Melbourne to build a five-point buffer over the Reds, who had a bye.


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