The Chiefs showed few signs of travel fatigue as they powered to their eighth straight Super Rugby win with a 33-14 victory over the Hurricanes at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday.
Returning home earlier this week from an unbeaten three-match overseas stint, the Chiefs took a little time to hit full pace but, once they did, the Hurricanes could find no answer to their hard-running attack.
The Chiefs were particularly effective around the breakdown, and the speed of their ruck ball kept the Hurricanes’ defence back-pedalling for much of the opening 40 minutes.
Starved of good quality ball, with the Chiefs dominating possession, the Hurricanes defensive line had to work overtime and the penalties against them inevitably mounted.
With Chiefs and All Blacks five-eighth Aaron Cruden in accurate form with the boot, the home team lead mounted steadily to 12-3 as the half-hour mark neared.
But with just five minutes until the break, the Hurricanes finally secured some decent field position and shifted the ball quickly to Andre Taylor.
The fullback scythed through the Chiefs’ midfield, sold half a dummy and jinked through for his seventh try of the Super Rugby season.
Ahead 12-8 at halftime, the Chiefs extended their lead five minutes after the restart when Lelia Masaga latched onto a flat ball from returning halfback Brendon Leonard and waltzed around Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara to score under the posts.
Two Beauden Barrett penalties kept the Hurricanes in touch as the 60-minute mark neared, but the Chiefs kept the ball close and showed patience in building pressure after an initial Cruden break brought them to within 10 metres of the line.
Inevitably, try-scoring loosehead prop Sona Taumololo powered over from close in for his seventh try of the season for the Chiefs to lead 26-14 with 15 minutes remaining.
Ten minutes later, replacement prop Toby Smith burrowed over from 5m out in a repeat of Taumololo’s effort put the match beyond doubt.