There are special games in every Super Rugby season that will live on long after the title has been decided.

Friday night's epic battle in Hamilton between competition heavyweights the Chiefs and defending champions the Hurricanes was one for the ages.

The Chiefs prevailed 26-18 to prevent the Hurricanes getting even a bonus point but the victory was far more obvious than the scoreboard suggests.

A monsoon arrived just before kick-off and parked itself above FMG Waikato Stadium for the duration to add even more drama to the occasion. The handling skills shown by the two outstanding teams was uncanny, especially considering the massive defence on show from both teams.


You often hear how games played at this level have test match intensity. The reality is that Friday's game was far more intense than most test matches involving the All Blacks.

Hurricanes feisty hooker and captain Dane Coles came out before the game with the quip that both sides "like to hurt each other". He certainly did his best to live up to that and the lack of discipline from him and his halfback TJ Perenara hurt his team in the first half particularly.

One of the comical sights of the season was seeing Perenara fronting up to the nearly 2m tall Brodie Retallick after the Chiefs lock scored the game's opening try.

Despite his bravado, Perenara came off second-best to Tawera Kerr-Barlow in the quest to find the All Blacks starting halfback. Kerr-Barlow has refined his game superbly in the last year, improving the sharpness of his pass and adding some clever tactical kicking which was clearly evident when he set up a match-winning try for Tony Pulu right on halftime.

Defensively Kerr-Barlow has no equal in the modern game and if he keeps this form up will make the All Blacks selectors' job that much tougher ahead of the first test against the British and Irish Lions in June.

In a game of individual battles between current and wannabe All Blacks, Sam Cane was a colossus for the Chiefs up against the multi-talented Ardie Savea.

Cane missed the first two games while getting over the ankle injury he picked up late last year with the All Blacks but you would not have known it such was his dominance.

Top marks too for Bay of Plenty's other two forwards who played most of the second half in hooker Seb Siataga and Ziggy Fisi'ihoi. They did not look out of place in such highly rated company.


The Chiefs defence was monstrous and they have not conceded a try in the opening hour of all three matches so far this season. That stat would be meaningless had they played the Sunwolves or Kings but they have played the Highlanders, Blues and Hurricanes so far.

Perhaps only the Crusaders and Lions are the other side in the competition in the same class.

It is too early to say the Chiefs have this in the bag of course but the nature of their opening hat-trick of victories means they are now hot favourites to do so.