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Chiefs beat Rebels to reclaim Super Rugby lead

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/05/2016

Mitch Graham of the Chiefs is wrestled by Nic Stirzaker of the Rebels. © AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford Mitch Graham of the Chiefs is wrestled by Nic Stirzaker of the Rebels. The Chiefs did the damage early before coasting to a 36-15 win over the Melbourne Rebels today in Hamilton to go back to the top of the Super Rugby standings.

Four of the home side's five tries came inside the opening 30 minutes to forge a 26-3 halftime lead and virtually assure a 15th win for New Zealand teams in 18 games this season against Australian opposition.

Snaring a bonus point lifted the Chiefs one point clear of the Crusaders, who couldn't do the same last night in their 29-10 defeat of the NSW Waratahs.

Coming off a bye, the two-time champions lost direction after their compelling start but found another gear to score the last try through reserve back Andrew Horrell.

All 15 of the Rebels' points came from fullback Mike Harris, who scored their first try early in the second half and set up the second to midfielder Reece Hodge near fulltime with a sizzling break.

They will remain 12th overall and third in the Australian conference, with their hopes of reaching the playoffs taking a dive following three straight losses.

They spent much of the second half in possession but were disjointed in comparison to the opening forays of the Chiefs, who had dominated through superior forward power and slick off-loading.

First five-eighth Aaron Cruden scored one of the tries and finished with 14 points, which included four from five shots at goal.

His grubber kick set up one-Test hooker Nathan Harris, who scored a maiden Super Rugby try in his first start in an injury-plagued season.

Centre Seta Tamanivalu opened the scoring after stepping back inside, while winger Toni Pulu also took advantage of some weak one-on-one defence, powering past lock Sam Jeffries from close range.

The Chiefs will play the Waratahs in Sydney on Friday ahead of the June international break.

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