Lowe, Marshal score as Chiefs beat Blues 23-16 in Super Rugby
Wingers James Lowe and Tom Marshall scored tries as the Chiefs beat the Blues 23-16 in Super Rugby on Saturday, stretching their opponent’s losing start to the season to seven games.
Lowe’s 28th-minute try gave the Hamilton-based Chiefs a 10-3 halftime lead and Marshall’s try in the 67th minute clinched the win after the Blues had rallied to lead 13-10 after 52 minutes.
Replacement flyhalf Ihaia West kicked a penalty after the fulltime siren to earn the Blues a consolation bonus point.
The Chiefs improved their record for the season to 6-2, moving into second place behind the unbeaten Hurricanes and stretching their winning streak over the Auckland- based Blues to nine games.
The Blues paid for a lack of discipline in a first half spattered with penalties in which the Chiefs gained a small measure of control. They conceded turnovers and struggled to get out of their own half, allowing the Chiefs to build pressure.
That pressure finally told with Lowe’s try which came after the Chiefs had retained possession through 12 phases after a lineout. Lowe hit the line at pace to score under the posts and to give flyhalf Aaron Cruden an easy conversion. Cruden kicked two conversions and three penalties for 13 points.
The Blues had their best period of play this season immediately after halftime, building towards a 46th-minute try to their captain Jerome Kaino which, with Dan Bowden’s conversion, tied the scores at 10-10.
A penalty to Bowden soon after gave the Blues a rare lead at 13-10 but the Chiefs showed discipline and determination to first tie the scores with a Cruden penalty, then snatch the match with Marshall’s try.
Leitch helped the Chiefs to break out of defense and they again created pressure from which Marshall scored with Lowe in support. Cruden’s conversion and 73rd minute penalty gave the Chiefs a 10-point lead and seemed likely to deny the Blues even a bonus point until Wests’ goal in stoppage time.
“We knew it was going to be a tough time,” Chiefs captain Liam Messam said. “This is a quality Blues side and Chiefs-Blues matches are always tough, it doesn’t matter what your record is.”
Blues captain Jerome Kaino said his team had again allowed scoring opportunities to slip through their fingers.
“I think in the first half there we had our opportunities but discipline really let us down,” he said. “We weren’t able to play in the right side of the park.
“But the boys showed a lot of heart and we were in it right to the end.”