Chiefs beat Blues 32-20 in Super Rugby
NEW PLYMOUTH, New Zealand (AP) — Ben Tameifuna scored two tries as the defending champion Chiefs beat the Blues 32-20 Friday in Super Rugby, stretching the Blues’ losing streak away from home to 13 games.
The 134-kilogram (295-pound) Tameifuna matched his effort of last season when he also scored two tries against the Blues, touching down once in each half to rally the Chiefs after they conceded an early try.
Tries by center Tim Nanai-Williams in the first half and fullback Tom Marshall in the second gave the Chiefs a four-try bonus point, ensuring they will stay at the top of the tight New Zealand conference for another week.
The Blues had come into playoff contention with home wins over the Queensland Reds and New South Wales Waratahs but Friday’s loss left them in ninth place.
At the same time, the Chiefs provided further evidence they have begun to rouse themselves from a mid-season slump and will not easily relinquish the title they won in each of the last two years.
Their heavy win over South Africa’s Lions last week ended a troubled run in which they took only one win from six games and Friday’s match, on what used to be a home ground for the Hurricanes, showed they remain formidable.
“I’m very proud of the boys,” Chiefs captain Liam Messam said. “It’s been a pretty tough month for us everyone doubted us.
“I’m just proud of the way the boys have bounced back. It wasn’t pretty, it was ugly and tough but sometimes you have to win those ugly and tough ones.”
Young winger Lolagi Visinia scored the first try of the match in the seventh minute as the Blues looked ready to take control through seasoned forwards and their fast and powerful backline. But the Chiefs hit back almost immediately with Tameifuna’s first try and, with a try to Nanai-Williams from a sprawling movement involving backs and forwards, took a 20-13 lead at halftime.
Tameifuna’s second try in the opening minutes of the second half gave them a comfortable, 12-point margin and Marshall’s try in 51st minute, from an outstanding break by Nanai-Williams, killed off most hopes of a Blues’ revival.
The Auckland-based side did score a late try through center George Moala, who was also instrumental in their first try, but the Chiefs’ outstanding defense denied the Blues even a consolation bonus point.
“I tell you we were playing a bloody good side there in the Chiefs. That’s why they’re the champions at the moment,” Blues captain Keven Mealamu said. “I think in the beginning they applied some good pressure and were able to turn that pressure into points in the first half.
“I think it’s a different challenge to play the Chiefs. They’re the reigning champs and they do things a bit different so we take off our hats and give them full credit for the way they played tonight.”
Chiefs 32 (Ben Tameifuna 2, Tim Nanai-Williams, Tom Marshall tries; Gareth Anscombe 3 conversions, 2 penalties), Blues 20 (Lolagi Visinia, George Moala tries; Simon Hickey conversion, 2 penalties; Ihaia West conversion). HT: 20-13.