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Damian McKenzie kicks Chiefs to last-gasp win over Hurricanes

FILE - Damian Mckenzie of the Chiefs. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

FILE - Damian Mckenzie of the Chiefs. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published Apr 23, 2021


WELLINGTON - Damian McKenzie booted the Chiefs to yet another late win in a 26-24 victory over the Hurricanes on Friday to boost their chances of making the Super Rugby Aotearoa final.

McKenzie's 82nd-minute penalty kick extended the Chiefs' winning run to five matches, turning around a form slump that blighted the start of their season in the New Zealand competition.

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McKenzie has been a key part of the Chiefs' hot streak and captain Brad Weber praised his composure in key moments after the dramatic, final-kick win over the Hurricanes.

"We've got to stop doing that, it's not good for my heart," Weber said, after a dramatic match in Hamilton.

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"He's been 'Mr. Clutch' for us all year so I never had a sliver of doubt, he's been hitting them all year."

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The Hurricanes entered the match out of finals contention and playing for pride, but Weber said the Chiefs also had a point to prove after being written off early in the season.

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"It was ugly, and the Hurricanes were probably the better team for a lot of the game," he said.

"But I'm not surprised where we are right now. I know the work we've been putting in and we deserve it."

The result puts the Chiefs ahead of the Auckland Blues in the race for a final berth, with defending champions the Canterbury Crusaders almost certain to reach the decider.

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The Hurricanes scored in the first minute when lock James Blackwell broke the defensive line and sprinted away for a try.

The Chiefs hit back with a McKenzie penalty and a try to Pita-Gus Sowakul, who broke away from the base of a scrum to power over the line.

It was 10-all at the break after Jordie Barrett kicked a 55-metre penalty as the half-time siren sounded.

The Chiefs regained the lead with another McKenzie penalty, and extended it when Bryn Gatland scooped up Weber's pass for a converted try.

Hurricanes centre Billy Proctor narrowed the gap to 20-17 after being set up by a run from Devan Flanders, then Asafo Aumua's try put them in front.

But McKenzie's penalty from 45 metres out delivered the win for the Chiefs.


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