Chiefs outmuscle Hurricanes in Hamilton slogfest

The Chiefs rediscovered their winning form with a grinding 23-12 win over the Hurricanes on Saturday to cement their place at the top of the Super Rugby Pacific standings.

All Blacks lock Tupou Vaa'i scored two of the Chiefs' three tries in miserable conditions in Hamilton to bounce back from last week's shock 25-22 loss to the Reds - their first defeat of the season.

Up 10-0 at halftime, the home side looked comfortably placed when Vaa'i then bagged his second try as the pouring rain grew in intensity reports RNZ.

However, tries to Hurricanes fullback Josh Moorby and No.8 Brayden within the space of 10 minutes closed the gap to eight points entering the closing stages.

First five-eighth Damian McKenzie landed two penalties to seal his team's 11th win from 12 games and lift his own season tally to a competition-high 137 points.

McKenzie's kicking in general play was also influential as a Chiefs side at close to full strength largely controlled proceedings against the weakened Hurricanes.

Chiefs co-captain Sam Cane was pleased with how his team adapted to the atrocious conditions.

"When we come to this point of the season, the weather changes and I think the rugby we play has to change accordingly," he told Sky Sport.

"It was always going to be a battle of the forwards once the weather came in like that. It won't be pieces of individual brilliance that win games at this point of the season. It'll be a real collective effort.

"They scored two breakout tries but other than that we were able to defend well for long periods and that's another part of our game we need to be really good at, at this point in our season. That, and our composure."

The visitors chose to omit a number of players under the All Blacks' resting protocols - including captain Ardie Savea and star back Jordie Barrett.

The Hurricanes remain fifth after losing three of their last five games and face a challenge to push for a top-four home quarter-final, with their two remaining regular season fixtures both challenging affairs against the Blues and Crusaders.

The Chiefs' play two games in Australia before the play-offs, including a key match against title rivals the ACT Brumbies in Canberra next week.

Later the New South Waratahs had a 32-18 win over Fijian Drua, to ensure a quarter-final spot, while the Western Force kept their quarter-final hopes alive with a 34-19 win over the Brumbies.


Alex Nankivell of the Chiefs. Photo: Photosport