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Chiefs and Blues in rare Super Rugby draw

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/05/2017

Damian McKenzie of the Chiefs catches a high ball during the Round 14 Super Rugby match. © AAP Image/David Rowland Damian McKenzie of the Chiefs catches a high ball during the Round 14 Super Rugby match. The Chiefs and Blues have battled themselves to a Super Rugby standstill in a 16-16 draw at a rainswept Eden Park in Auckland.

The result, the first draw between the two sides, would not have satisfied either team.

The Chiefs needed a win to stay in touch with the competition-leading Crusaders after last week's 31-24 loss in Suva, while the Blues were desperate to end their miserable 0-5 record in New Zealand conference matches.

The Chiefs looked solid to begin with, building early phases despite steady drizzle, but struggled on their own lineout throw and were let down by poor handling as the game progressed.

They were also hit by the early loss of winger Tim Nanai-Williams to an ankle injury, replaced by Shaun Stevenson after just 20 minutes.

Tim Nanai-Williams of the Chiefs lies injured. © Hannah Peters/Getty Image Tim Nanai-Williams of the Chiefs lies injured. Then, 10 minutes later, with the scores at 3-3, the Blues took the lead after Sonny Bill Williams generated some front-foot ball with a bullocking midfield run.

Halfback Augustine Pulu shifted the ball quickly from the resulting ruck, sending winger Rieko Ioane into space for his ninth try of the season.

The Chiefs responded almost immediately, laying siege to the Blues' line for 13 phases.

However, the home team defended stoutly and looked set to take a 13-3 lead into halftime after first-five Piers Francis landed another penalty three minutes from the break.

But sloppy work from the Blues at the restart gifted the Chiefs some prime field position, and quick work at the breakdown allowed fullback Damian McKenzie to slice through to cross unopposed.

Aaron Cruden of the Chiefs during the Round 14 Super Rugby match. © AAP Image/David Rowland Aaron Cruden of the Chiefs during the Round 14 Super Rugby match. Aaron Cruden missed the conversion, and the Blues took a 13-8 lead into the break.

With rain continuing to fall steadily, the second half turned into a battle of attrition up front, with both sides adding only a penalty apiece going into the final 15 minutes.

But the Chiefs launched a devastating counter-attack after forcing a turnover inside their own 22, McKenzie's pinpoint cross-field kick finding Johnny Fa'auli haring down the right wing.

Cruden couldn't land the conversion, leaving the scores level at 16-16 with 10 minutes remaining.

Piers Francis of the Blues makes a break/ © Hannah Peters/Getty Images Piers Francis of the Blues makes a break/ The Chiefs had one final chance with a 72nd-minute penalty, but Francis pushed his kick wide.

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