Late Tikoirotuma heroics steals win for Chiefs
June 2, 2012
Asaeli Tikoirotuma ran in four tries for the Chiefs as they over-powered the Blues in Auckland © PA Photos
Winger Alaesi Tikoirotuma bagged four tries to equal the individual try-scoring record in a Super Rugby match as the Chiefs cemented their place at the top of the table with a thrilling 41-34 win over the Blues.
The Blues' Francis Sali opened the try-scoring on 12 minutes, before Tikoirotuma grabbed his first three minutes later. Both teams added another try and two penalties apiece to go in at half-time tied 20-20. Two quick tries from Tikoirotuma after the break put the Chiefs firmly in control and while Rudi Wolf and Rene Ranger pulled back another two tries for the Blues, Tikoirotuma's fourth and the boot of Aaron Cruden allowed the Chiefs to record a win that puts them on the brink of the play-offs. "We are definitely happy with the five points. They were hard earned," Chiefs captain Liam Messam said. "It was a tough game and full credit to the Blues they really took it to us."
The Stormers remain hot on their heels in the overall standings following their 19-14 victory over South African conference rivals the Bulls in Pretoria. At half-time, the Bulls looked on course for the win that would lift them above their neighbours in the race for the play-offs thanks to a try from No.8 Pierre Spies and the ever-reliable boot of Morne Steyn. Things looked bleak for the Stormers midway through the second half following the sin-binning of prop Frans Malherbe but they rallied with a late try from winger Bryan Habana swinging the game in their favour before No.10 Peter Grant sealed the win. "We had a good heart to heart last night and the boys really wanted to do it for each other,'' said Stormers captain Jean de Villiers, whose side were looking to bounce back from a defeat to the Sharks last time out. "We played against a massively good team.''
The Hurricanes kept up the pressure on the Chiefs and the Crusaders when they returned from their away match against Waratahs with a 33-12 win. Substitute Chris Eaton grabbed a late try to secure the four-try bonus point following earlier efforts from Julian Savea, Moto Matu'u and captain Conrad Smith. The Waratahs' only response was four penalties from Berrick Barnes.
"It was a nice way to cap it off," Smith said. "We've managed to score a few tries this year, but even if we didn't get that try at the end, we still would have been stoked because it is a while since we've won over here."
In South Africa, the Lions began in irrepressible fashion to record a much-needed 38-28 win over the Sharks. Grant Hattingh, Derick Minnie and Lionel Mapoe gave the Johannesburg-based team a substantial early lead that the Sharks were unable to recover from. Lwazi Mvovo crossed for the Sharks before the break, but Deon van Rensburg ensured the Lions had a four-try bonus point before halftime. JP Pietersen and Odwa Ndungane pulled further tries back in the second half, but two penalties from Elton Jantjies was enough to keep the Lions outs in front.
On Friday, the Crusaders ran riot against the Highlanders as they crossed for seven tries en route to their 51-18 win. The Crusaders were firmly in control of the match by half-time having already run in four scores through George Whitelock, a brace from Zac Guildford and a further try from Ryan Crotty. They added a further three in the second 40 with Richie McCaw, Wyatt Crockett and Matt Todd all crossing. The result takes them to second in the New Zealand conference and second overall.
Elsewhere, the Brumbies rallied late to dispatch the Melbourne Rebels 27-19. Tries from Andrew Smith and Robbie Coleman, along with the boot of Jesse Mogg and Zack Holmes was enough to get them over the line. Cooper Vuna scored the Rebels' sole try. The Brumbies are now five points clear at the top of the Australian conference table.
"I'll take that every day of the week, that's four points in this competition and it's extremely hard to do," Brumbies' skipper Ben Mowen told the Courier Mail. "Melbourne is an improving side and an extremely tough side to play at home and I think if you asked the Crusaders would they take a four-point win out of here I think they would have taken it as well."
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