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The Waikato Chiefs finished full of running to post an emphatic 33-14 victory over the Wellington Hurricanes in Hamilton on Saturday and cement top spot in the Super Rugby standings.
Second half tries from Leila Masaga, Sona Taumololo and Toby Smith, and 18 points off the boot of Aaron Cruden, secured the Chiefs their eighth straight win from nine games in the season.
“I'm just rapped that we could get a win and keep the ball rolling,” skipper Craig Clarke, who notched his 50th Super Rugby match with the Chiefs, said in a pitchside interview.
“After halftime, we thought if we could hold the ball a little bit longer then we could create things.”
The Hurricanes took their fifth loss of the season but had raised hope of reeling in the hosts when Beauden Barrett's third penalty kick put them within five points 17 minutes after the break.
However, Chiefs prop Taumololo barged over the line eight minutes later to ease the pressure before replacement Smith slammed the door shut with a 76th minute try.
Cruden, laser-sharp all night, kicked the Chiefs to a 12-8 lead at half-time with four penalties, but the Hurricanes had the first try through Andre Taylor five minutes before the break, the fullback charging 50 metres down the left wing.
Livewire winger Masaga kept the Hurricanes at bay with a try five minutes after halftime, breaking a tackle with a piercing run to cross beneath the posts after receiving a flat pass from scrumhalf Brendon Leonard.
Any evidence that the Chiefs might tire after their long-haul flight home from South Africa quickly evaporated as the home side kept the Hurricanes scoreless in the last quarter and added 14 points to keep their dominant season rolling. – Reuters