Chiefs show quality
Round two got off to a mouthwatering start with the Blues facing their southern rivals the Crusaders in front of an almost full house at Eden Park.
After an impressive display in round one last week everybody took notice of the way the Blues played.
The Crusaders had a bye in the first week, meaning this was their first game.
Both teams started by playing low risk rugby with lots of kicks into space. Dan Carter got the scoring under way with a penalty before a huge looping pass over the top of the defence allowed flanker Steven Luatua to dive across the line.
This is the sort of play that made the Blues famous under Graham Henry in the 90s.
Throughout the first half I thought the Crusaders’ kicking game was appalling. Far too often, they kicked straight back to the Blues’ dangerous back three. The Blues capitalised by making many easy metres, and crossing the advantage line easily, meaning they were always in the right place to attack.
The two players causing the most trouble for the Crusaders were fullback Charles Piutua and winger Rene Ranger or my new nickname for him – Ranger Danger.
He made two or three important line breaks to help set up tries, and Piutua caused trouble all night with his bustling runs into the defence, breaking tackles every time.
He also had good vision, throwing a long range pass to Frank Halai to score the second try.
Blues first- five Chris Noakes made an inchperfect cross kick which Halai gathered and scored. The Blues managed to score two further tries in the second half to finish off the Crusaders 34-15.
I thought the game was highly entertaining and a great spectacle of running rugby that is not seen anywhere else in the world.
Are we witnessing a long awaited resurgence (if you are a Blues fan) of one of the sleeping giants of Super Rugby?
Perhaps the KirwanHenry coaching team will be something to watch.
The Chiefs played their first home game on Saturday against the Cheetahs at Waikato Stadium.
The Cheetahs were really impressive in the first half, throwing everything at the Chiefs, and running hard at the defence the whole time.
At times, they really challenged the defensive line.
Having nearly doubled the possession and territory, they still scored only a penalty.
That showed the quality of a championship team – the few chances that the Chiefs had to score points did not go begging.
Chiefs led 10-3 at halftime.
Minutes after the resumption, the Cheetahs were attempting to clear their line when manmountain Brodie Retallick batted the ball down for Ben Afeaki who simply picked up the ball and flopped over the line.
The Chiefs scored their third try when Aaron Cruden managed to squeeze through a gap, and free his arms to off-load to Tikoirotuma.
The Chiefs secured the bonus point try off a beautiful set piece started by Kerr Barlow who spun the ball wide to Cruden, who moved it on before looping around and sending Anscombe over. Trust me, that’s incredible play.
The Chiefs finished up scoring a couple more tries and winning 45-3.
Their next is game against the Stormers in Cape Town which will be a tough assignment but they’ll have to find way to overcome because that’s what being champions is all about.