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The Chiefs scored 26 points in the opening half hour.
The Chiefs scored 26 points in the opening half hour.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

Bonus-point win ensures Chiefs move to top of Super Rugby table

The Crusaders drop to second while the Rebels’ play-off hopes remain in the balance.
May 21st 2016, 12:19 PM 3,956 5

A BLUNT ASSESSMENT of their shortcomings paid off for the Chiefs who went top of the Super Rugby table with a bonus-point 36-15 victory over the Melbourne Rebels in Hamilton on Saturday.

On a wet night, the Chiefs scored five tries to move to 42 points, one ahead of the Canterbury Crusaders, while the Rebels remain on 23 points and with their play-off hopes slipping away.

Chiefs captain Sam Cane said there had been some serious soul-searching after losing to the Otago Highlanders in their last outing and, with a bye last week, they returned a fresher and more focused side.

But of concern for the Chiefs was how they went off the boil after chalking up 26 points in the first half hour.

They put away the backline enterprise that caused much of the early damage, their control of the breakdown was diluted and it took 40 minutes before they scored again with a late flurry.

“The way we started the game, the first 30 minutes were urgent. We were a lot more clinical than we had been in the last couple of weeks. The disappointing part was we did not show that for the whole 80,” Cane said.

Source: All Blacks/YouTube

Seta Tamanivalu set the tone for the opening onslaught with a try in the third minute after the Chiefs pack had marched the Rebels back 20 metres.

Brad Weber moved the ball wide where Tamanivalu wrong-footed Mitch Inman and Reece Hodge to cross handy to the posts.

The Rebels were outplayed in every department in the opening exchanges as the Chiefs corrected all the errors that had slipped into their game.

After forward power set up the first try, the second came from a delicate Aaron Cruden chip kick behind the Rebels defensive line which hooker Nathan Harris pounced on for the five-pointer.

With the Rebels falling off tackles, Toni Pulu came off his wing to score the bonus point try in the 23rd minute when a dummy pass from scrum-half Brad Weber opened a hole close to the ruck.

But, after Cruden scored to put the Chiefs up 26-3, the Rebels enjoyed 10 minutes of dominance through to half-time without converting possession into points.

Three times skipper Nic Stirzaker turned down shots at goal in favour of an attacking lineout and each time they came up empty handed.

The Rebels resurgence continued at the start of the second half when Harris scored and converted.

It was not until the 69th minute that the Chiefs scored again, first with a penalty by Aaron Cruden who contributed 14 points on the night and then a try to Andrew Horrell before the Rebels finished the game with a try to Hodge.

- © AFP, 2016

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