Chiefs’ record win gives Auckland the Blues

Augustine Pulu of the Blues (C) forces his way over the line in the tackle from the Chiefs defence during the round two Super Rugby match between the Blues and the Chiefs at Eden Park on March 2, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

The Chiefs came from behind to extend their Super Rugby dominance over the Blues with a 27-21 win at Eden Park on Friday.

The Chiefs took their unbeaten run against their New Zealand rivals to 13 matches, a record between two teams in the southern hemisphere competition.

The sequence includes 12 wins and one draw, with the Blues last tasting victory in the North Island derby in March 2011.

It was a particularly painful loss for coach Tana Umaga’s side, who led 14-5 mid-way through the first half and faced a Chiefs outfit weakened by 17 injuries.

The Aucklanders are now winless after two matches but captain Augustine Pulu said there was still time to get their season on track.

“The belief is there, we just have to execute at those critical times,” he said.

Chiefs skipper Sam Cane praised a makeshift team that was padded to offset the burgeoning sick list.

“It’s one of the proudest days to be a Chief, everything with the injuries this week has been pretty relentless to be honest,” he said.

“We had some young guys who really stepped up, it was awesome to see… the crowd definitely got their money’s worth.”

The Chiefs’ injury woes deepened when fullback Shaun Stevenson and All Black lock Brodie Rettallick were ruled out just before kick off.

It forced coach Colin Cooper to reshuffle both his backline and his forward pack, leaving the Chiefs looking disjointed early in the match.

The Blues capitalised when Pulu crossed for a converted try in the eighth minute after being set up by a one-handed pass from hooker Jamie Parsons.

The Chiefs hit back with a Taleni Seu five-pointer but had to absorb sustained Blues pressure, which paid off when Akira Ioane brushed off Damien McKenzie’s tackle to score his third try of the season.

Defensive errors gifted the Chiefs a second try through Sean Wainui, narrowing the Blues’ lead to 14-10 at half-time.

The Chiefs then stunned the Blues with two tries in two minutes shortly after the restart to take the lead for the first time.

Cane dotted down for the first from a line-out drive and Brad Weber scooted down the wing for the second, with a penalty increasing the lead to 27-14.

The Blues of previous years would have folded but fly-half Bryn Gatland, son of Wales coach Warren, scored a converted try to make it 27-21.

The Aucklanders laid siege to the Chiefs’ half and had a line-out after the siren but blew the opportunity by not throwing the ball in straight.

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