22 May 2016

Chiefs go top with Rebels romp, Blues win

7:53 am on 22 May 2016

The Chiefs rediscovered their high-octane attack in Hamilton to secure a 36-15 bonus point victory over the Melbourne Rebels and climb back to the top of the Super Rugby standings.

Seta Tamanivalu scores against the Rebels.

Seta Tamanivalu scores against the Rebels. Photo: Photosport

Coming off a bye after defeat to the Highlanders in their last outing, the Chiefs had the cowbells clanging at Waikato Stadium from the fourth minute when centre Seta Tamanivalu cut inside two defenders to score their opening try.

The twice champions also had scores from returning two-cap All Blacks hooker Nathan Harris, first-five Aaron Cruden and winger Toni Pulu in the first half, while Andrew Horrell crossed for their sole effort after the break.

Fullback Mike Harris scored nine of Melbourne's points with a converted second-half try and a penalty but the Rebels got no reward for their considerable effort and slipped further back in the race to top the Australian conference.

The Chiefs simply overwhelmed sides with their power and pace in the first six matches of the season when they set the standard in Super Rugby and four tries in the first half an hour looked like a reprise of that form.

Ten minutes after Tamanivalu had opened the scoring, Harris got on the end of a Cruden chip to touch down in the corner and, after Pulu had crossed, the first-five got a try of his own from close range in the 30th minute following a sweeping counter-attack.

Leading 26-3 at halftime, the Chiefs would have expected to kick on but the obdurate Rebels stalled their progress with Harris's 45th minute try and a series of turnovers.

It was not until the 71st minute that replacement back Horrell snared the Chiefs' fifth try and even then, Rebels centre Reece Hodge scored a second consolation on the counter-attack three minutes later.

Also, last night flanker Jerome Kaino and winger Tevita Li scored tries as the Blues claimed a rare away success with a narrow 17-13 victory over the Force in Perth.

The New Zealand side scored all their points in the first half and led 17-3 at the break before the Force grabbed a try through flank Matthew Hodgson to claim a bonus point and set up a tense finish.

The victory was just a second away from home for the Blues in their last 15 matches on the road and kept their slim hopes of reaching the playoffs alive.

This morning first-five Pat Lambie scored 23 points as the Sharks put on a scintillating first-half display to demolish compatriots the Kings 53-0 in Durban.

Lambie bagged two tries to go with a brace for centre Paul Jordaan as the home side ran in eight unanswered scores for a bonus-point win.

It might have been worse for the hapless Kings, who trailed 43-0 at halftime but were more organised after the restart to restrict the Sharks to two tries.

Earlier this morning a strong second-half showing allowed the Lions to roar to a bonus-point 52-24 victory over the Jaguares and confirm their status as South Africa's most likely contenders in Super Rugby this season.

Wings Ruan Combrinck and Courtnall Skosan bagged two tries each as the Lions ran in eight at Ellis Park having led 19-9 at halftime.

The Argentinean side battled in the set-pieces and were starved of possession, but did get late tries through first-five Nicolas Sanchez, who also kicked four penalties, and halfback Gonzalo Bertranou.

In this morning's final game the Bulls edged a typically bruising South African derby with the Stormers 17-13 as halfback Piet van Zyl scored their only try to move them to the top of African Conference 1.

First-five Francois Brummer kicked three penalties and Tiaan Schoeman added a drop-goal as the Bulls withstood intense pressure with an excellent defensive effort.

The Stormers only managed a single try through centre Damian de Allende despite having the majority of possession and territory.