Justin Marshall is a former All Blacks halfback and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Justin Marshall: Chiefs-Hurricanes contest delivers real entertainment

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Let's compliment the Chiefs and Hurricanes for putting on such an entertaining game in Wellington. Photo / Darren Taumata
Let's compliment the Chiefs and Hurricanes for putting on such an entertaining game in Wellington. Photo / Darren Taumata

Let's compliment the Chiefs and Hurricanes for putting on such an entertaining game in Wellington.

Sometimes such an important and highly anticipated match fails to measure up, but this had everything - individual brilliance, physicality, drama, controversy. It delivered.

It was very windy at the ground but it was a high-quality game regardless. The wind had an effect on Beauden Barrett's goalkicking.

Yes, Damian McKenzie was good but it was about field position in terms of the wind and the Chiefs fullback probably had more luck with that than Barrett did.

A period which probably best summed up the quality of this match was the five minutes after halftime which ended in a try to Michael Leitch. The ball had been in play since the restart and the period featured thrust, counter-thrust, moments of magic and physicality.

Afterwards, there were good interviews with Chiefs coach Dave Rennie and captain Sam Cane.

They knew they probably weren't the better team in the match but, through the course of a season, champion teams often aren't the better on the night. The difference is they find a way to win.

They had a disrupted build-up with Charlie Ngatai pulling out late and they lost twice to the Hurricanes last year, but they left with four points and that's not an easy thing to do.

The Hurricanes left a lot of points out there. They had enough time, possession and territory to accumulate more points.

They turned down four or five shots at goal but made messes of the resulting lineouts. They could have put the Chiefs under so much more defensive pressure but couldn't take advantage of the opportunities they were creating.

They made mistakes at the worst times and some of the kicking was inaccurate which gifted the Chiefs good counter-attacking ball.

The match had everything - individual brilliance, physicality, drama, controversy.

The Hurricanes don't seem as clinical as they were last year when they made the final. They're not as ruthless and I wonder if losing a few key and experienced players, who last year demanded that discipline, is manifesting itself.

I've mentioned it before, but I hope New Zealand Rugby are working hard and with imagination to retain Dave Rennie. As a former player, when you hear him speaking after a game, it's clear he's a very clever coach who understands the game so well.

You can see why and how he gets results and it would be a shame if he isn't retained in some capacity.

A word on the Jaguares, who lost to the Sunwolves over the weekend. The newcomers from Argentina aren't doing rugby in their country many favours at the moment.

Their first season in the competition was never going to be easy, but they have so many international players, who did so well at the recent World Cup, that winning only one match so far this season is not acceptable.

They pushed hard to be in this competition but have to show more than they are at the moment. Their performances and the errors they are making are downright embarrassing.

I know if I was coaching them, I would be frustrated and upset with the way some of their world class players are going.

- NZ Herald

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Justin Marshall is a former All Blacks halfback and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Justin Marshall played 81 test matches for the All Blacks, including four as captain. The halfback made his debut in 1995 against France and ended his career 10 years later with a series sweep over the British and Irish Lions. He won five Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders, playing 105 games for the franchise. He commentates for Sky Television.

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