Chiefs 26 Hurricanes 18

Three New Zealand derbies down, three victories accrued - this Super Rugby season could hardly have started better for the Chiefs.

What appeared on paper to be a punishing draw continued to prove profitable tonight, beating both the elements and the defending champions in Hamilton.

In unrelenting rain that dampened the prospect of two electric attacks being allowed to trade blows, the Hurricanes became the Chiefs' latest - and greatest - scalp in the new year.

Dave Rennie's men made a third straight opposition look ordinary, having stunted the Highlanders and seen off the Blues. Tonight they shut down a Hurricanes side who had opened their campaign by scoring 154 points in 160 minutes, keeping their opposition to just six in the first 60.


More pertinently, they shut down a Hurricanes side who, for all their pace and guile, had recently proven rather adept at adopting a different approach. After all, the champions were crowned after winning three straight games in weather like tonight, exerting their control through means other than their scintillating attack.

But several key qualities of that Hurricanes team were missing tonight, replaced by uncharacteristic errors that led to their downfall. There was a level of ill-discipline that saw two men sent to the sin bin, there was a succession of mistakes that forced them to spend too much time at the wrong end of the field and, unlike last season's playoffs, there were a few holes in their defence.

"We're grumpy because we were ill-disciplined and gave away a couple of yellow cards," said Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd. "Clearly we weren't disciplined enough, according to the referee, so that was disappointing."

Further souring Boyd's mood was the loss of Nehe Milner-Skudder through an ankle injury midway through the second half. Boyd was unable to provide an update on Milner-Skudder's condition but the All Black looked in some pain and, after missing most of last year after shoulder surgery, fingers will be crossed in the Hurricanes camp.

The Chiefs also suffered their own injury blow, with Tim Nanai-Williams forced off with a dislocated shoulder in the first five minutes. Rennie expected the utility to be out for four-to-six weeks but was impressed with the way his side recovered from the early setback.

"We're really happy," Rennie said. "[It was] difficult conditions and we always knew it was going to be an arm wrestle against a side that was pretty hot. Maybe we dealt with the conditions a bit better and our kicking was good. We dominated big chunks of the game from a territory point of view and then we got rewarded."

That reward came courtesy of a dominant set piece and a willingness to take risks at the right time, regularly eschewing an easy three points and opting instead to build pressure through a solid lineout and a powerful scrum.

The pressure first saw Ardie Savea sent to the sin bin after repeated infringements and, moments later, saw Brodie Retallick burrow his way across for the game's first try. And once Michael Fatialofa took the place of his teammate on the sideline after attempting to tackle Nepo Laulala while using neither his brain nor his arms, the pressure seemed too much for the Hurricanes to bear.

Especially since the Chiefs were almost as insistent as the weather, soon finding a second try when the outstanding Tawera Kerr-Barlow sent through a pinpoint grubber for Toni Pulu to score in the corner.

Having staked themselves to a lead the home side defended doggedly for much of the match. While they wilted late as TJ Perenara and Julian Savea hauled the Hurricanes back into the contest, being denied victory would have been far less than the Chiefs deserved.

Instead, they moved clear in the Kiwi conference and, with a visit to the lowly Rebels followed by the bye, know the next fortnight will be much more relaxing than the previous.

Chiefs 26 (B. Retallick, T. Pulu tries; D. McKenzie 2 cons, 4 pens)
Hurricanes 18 (TJ Perenara, J. Savea; B. Barrett 2 pens, con)
Halftime: 17-6