Steven Luatua sorry for wild red card tackle as Chiefs conquer Blues in Hamilton

Steven Luatua of the Auckland Blues has been given a red card before halftime.

The Blues were their own worst enemies as the Chiefs beat them again with a resounding six-try victory in Hamilton.

Steven Luatua has nobody to blame but himself and he knows it, after his red card just before half-time reduced the Blues to 14 men in Friday night's Battle of the Bombays clash, which the Chiefs won 41-26.

The Blues flanker has apologised to Tim Nanai-Williams after wiping out the Chiefs winger, with the score at 15-9, with a late, swinging arm off the ball that left the officials with no choice but to dismiss him, especially with World Rugby's relatively new and strict laws on any tackle that makes contact to the head.

Luatua is alleged to have contravened Law 10.4(e), which is dangerous tackling of an opponent, and faces the mercy of the Sanzaar Foul Play Review Committee, who will review the incident on Sunday.

The Chiefs were punishing and back to their expansive best, as Aaron Cruden celebrated his 100th Super Rugby match with a classy display at first five-eighth.

That's now 11 wins on the bounce against the Blues for Dave Rennie's men, who backed up from round one's win over the Highlanders with a far more convincing and clinical showing in front of 17,094 at FMG Stadium Waikato.

Former Chief Augustine Pulu showed flashes in Blue, but his opposite number Tawera Kerr-Barlow beat him at his own game with some excellent darts from halfback.

Anton Lienert-Brown nailed his first tackle on Rieko Ioane and kept the teenage talent awfully quiet after his brilliant hat-trick against the Rebels last Thursday.

Ioane barely made a break, while Lienert-Brown touched down in the second half as the Chiefs cut loose before the Blues dug in, scoring three consolations tries through replacements Patrick Tuipulotu, Charlie Faumuina and Rene Ranger.

Ihaia West gave the Blues an early lead with three off the tee to silence the home crowd's early excitement at seeing their Chiefs play on their patch for the first time since that astonishing Wales victory last June.

Nine months was too long for locals, who could rattle the Mooloo bells when the Chiefs pushed for five points instead of three, which they grabbed when Liam Messam scored the game's first try.

Two West penalties put the Blues 9-5 ahead and the Chiefs' discipline was a concern. But when afforded space, the hosts were finding their rhythm in attack that was lacking in their smash-and-grab win over the Highlanders.

Damian McKenzie touched down after finishing off a fabulous play on the left, created by Dominic Bird's deft pass inside to Nanai-Williams, before Cruden found his fullback who scored.

The Chiefs looked their old selves with some dynamic attacking plays stretching the Blues, but after a scrappy spell leading up to half-time, with West's radar going astray, Luatua's red card following a lengthy TMO review gave the contest an unwanted talking point.

The Blues flanker's late, high hit on Nanai-Williams gave the visitors a mountain to climb - made worse when Hika Elliot scored his second try in successive weeks on the hooter.

It was a foolish act by Luatua with the Blues trailing by six, and in the same play when Kerr-Barlow almost scored from a surging break through the middle.

Any hope the Blues had of winning evaporated when the Chiefs flew out of the blocks after the break, with three tries to Lachlan Boshier, James Lowe and Lienert-Brown blowing out the score.

The Blues were left 41-9 down on the scoreboard and fought back admirably, but the Chiefs held on for a bonus point victory.

Chiefs 41 (Liam Messam, Damian McKenzie, Hika Elliot, Lachlan Boshier, James Lowe, Anton Lienert-Brown tries; Aaron Cruden 4 cons, pen) Blues 26 (Patrick Tuipulotu, Charlie Faumuina, Rene Ranger tries; Ihaia West con, 3 pens). HT: 22-9


Photo: PHIL WALTER/GETTY IMAGES (Steven Luatua jogs from the field after being red-carded during the round two Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Blues).