The Chiefs machine rolled on at Pukekohe on Saturday, notching up their ninth straight Super Rugby win with a clinical 34-21 victory over the Lions at Growers Stadium.
The New Zealand conference leaders, second overall, haven’t been beaten since the first round, while the Lions haven’t won since then.
Powered by a monster effort from their forwards, the Lions never stopped trying, but the Chiefs’ customary defensive efficiency and four well-taken tries saw them home.
The Chiefs paced their game well, two Aaron Cruden penalties giving them a 6-0 lead at the 15 minute mark.
Three minutes later the nippy pivot crossed for the Chiefs’ first try, an initial midfield break from Richard Kahui carried on with good support play and finished off out wide by Cruden.
With the half-hour mark looming, and with the Chiefs’ solid defence creating plenty of turnovers, Sonny Bill Williams set up a second try with a bullocking run to the line.
Captain Craig Clarke powered over from the quick recycle, and the conversion gave the Chiefs a 20-0 lead with 10 minutes remaining until halftime.
Lions replacement flanker Cobus Grobbelaar made the most of his brief time on the field, as the visitors finally established some field position and go-forward ball.
The Lions’ big men proved unstoppable from the 10m lineout, Grobelaar rumbling across for the try.
Ahead 20-7 at halftime, the Chiefs maintained momentum in the second spell. Tries to slippery winger Lelia Masaga and halfback Brendon Leonard were separated by another bruising forwards’ try to the Lions, captain Josh Strauss dotting down to keep the visitors in touch.
The Lions’ strong lineout, and more superb mauling, narrowed the gap further when Grobelaar drove over for his second try in the 67th minute.
With both teams tiring from the physical encounter, the scoreline remained unchanged as the Chiefs’ well-organised defence shut out the game.
Clarke was already looking ahead to next weekend’s clash with defending Super champions the Queensland Reds in Brisbane.
“That’s a Sunday match, so we’ve got a little bit longer than usual to prepare,” Clarke said.
“It will be interesting to see how they go against the Crusaders (on Sunday) and we’ll have to go over there and put a big effort in before our bye.”