Chiefs run riot against Blues
March 19, 2009
The Chiefs' Richard Kahui congratulates team mate Liam Messam on a try during their rout of the Blues in Hamilton © Getty Images
Lions 25 - 17 Brumbies Force 10 - 22 Sharks Waratahs 13 - 17 Crusaders Chiefs 63 - 34 Blues Highlanders 32 - 8 Cheetahs Hurricanes 14 - 19 Bulls
The Sharks are hot on the heels of the Bulls in second place, bouncing back after their surprise loss to the Reds with a 22-10 win over the Western Force in Perth.
The Sharks powered in to a 22-3 lead thanks to three quick tries from wingers Odwa Ndungane and JP PIetersen and exciting scrum-half Rory Kockott either side of half-time. The Force were brought back into the game by a try from Wallaby wing Scott Staniforth, who burst through the static Sharks defence after some intelligent play from fly-half Matt Giteau.
The All Blacks wing scored four tries, three of them within the opening 26 minutes as the Chiefs produced the type of performance any sane follower of the game would willingly travel very far and very wide to witness. Sivivatu's rapid fire contribution helped ease the Chiefs out to a 35-8 lead inside 32 minutes, leaving the Blues shell shocked and a lost cause.
By the finish the Chiefs had helped themselves to nine tries against a Blues team with five of their own but who can expect to become closely acquainted with the tackling bags at training next week.
The Crusaders rescued their season from the edge of oblivion with a 17-13 win over the Waratahs at the ANZ Stadium.
Facing a run of five winless matches for their first time in their history, the Crusaders toughed it out against an indifferent home side to begin their climb from the lower reaches of the points table. The defending champions defended strongly and cut the game open with a memorable length-of-the-field try to Leon MacDonald to record their second win from six matches in 2009.
Early competition leaders the Waratahs, who took the game out west to ANZ Stadium for the first time, were dogged by errors as they suffered their second straight defeat to end a run of 10 consecutive wins at home.
Trailing 5-8 at halftime the Highlanders, on the back of a powerful performance from their loose forward trio of blindside flanker Thompson, No.8 George Naoupu and openside flanker Alando Soakai, scored 27 unanswered points in the second half for their second win of the season.
The Cheetahs return home with their record of not having beaten a New Zealand team away since the inception of Super rugby, intact. Their fine all-round team performance and their pack's dominance over the Cheetahs will give the Highlanders confidence as the eye the Bulls for their next match at Palmerston North.
The final game of the round saw the Lions score a last minute 25-17 win over the Brumbies in a entertaining game in Johannesburg.
The Brumbies had started the strongest but only had a second minute Mark Gerrard penalty to show for their efforts, with the home side taking a surprising lead when Jaque Fourie broke through the Brumbies defence at speed and juggled the ball as he crashed over, regaining control to get the touchdown, Andre Pretorius converting.
The Lions were able to build momentum after the try with Jano Vermaak quickly scoring a second. However with the Lions down to 14 men when Cobus Grobbelaar was yellow carded Stirling Mortlock was able to get the Brumbies back into the game with their first try, Gerard's conversion closing the gap to two points. However a Pretorious drop goal in the last minute of the half gave the Lions a 5 point interval lead.
Four minutes into the second period the Brumbies were in the lead for the first time when Peter Kimlin scored, Mortlock's conversion making in 17-15 - but the lead again changed hands only five minutes later when Pretorious knocked over a penalty to regain the lead for the South Africans.
Neither side could take control with time running out and with the Brumbies trying to run out of their own half in the final minutes they spilled the ball and Louis Ludik gathered to race in, Pretorious twice taken conversion sealing the four points for the Lions.