The Chiefs stretched their winning run to four Super Rugby matches with a 27-22 victory over the Highlanders, before Ben Lam scored four tries as the Hurricanes hammered the Rebels to go top of the New Zealand Conference.
Highlanders started the Aaron Mauger era with three consecutive victories, but they have now lost two in a row after Sean Wainui’s try proved to be the difference in Hamilton on Friday.
Two Damian McKenzie penalties gave Chiefs a six-point advantage midway through the first half, but the clinical Waisake Naholo gathered a cross-field kick from Rob Thompson and sidestepped Solomon Alaimalo before going over to get Highlanders on the board.
Fletcher Smith, on for the injured Lima Sopoaga, added the extras but Alaimalo scored Chiefs’ opening try on the stroke of half-time after Toni Pulu set him up following a clever kick from McKenzie.
Fly-half McKenzie converted superbly to make it 13-7 and Nathan Harris added a second Chiefs five-pointer, but the game swung back in Highlanders’ favour courtesy of tries from Tevita Li and Paletasio Tomkinson either side of a Smith penalty.
Chiefs were not to be denied a fourth win in a row in Sam Cane’s 100th Super Rugby appearance, though, Wainui finishing off a fluent move in the left corner 12 minutes from time and McKenzie converting to complete the scoring.
— Chiefs Rugby (@ChiefsRugby) March 30, 2018
That victory briefly moved Chiefs to the summit of the New Zealand Conference, but the Hurricanes took over as leaders later in the day, wing Lam the star of the show as they outscored Rebels by seven tries to one in a 50-19 win at AAMI Park.
Rebels led 19-8 after half an hour, but the excellent Lam helped himself to two tries in each half as Highlanders scored 42 points without reply in Melbourne.
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta