Chiefs show qual­ity

Matamata Chronicle - - Sports/opinion - By STEVEN SA­MUELS

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.

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