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Chiefs hold off Canes for narrow win

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/06/2017

The Chiefs have repelled a desperate Hurricanes late charge to hold on for a narrow 17-14 Super Rugby win in Wellington on Friday.

It's the first time the Hurricanes have been beaten at home this season, and dealt a blow to their hopes of securing the first wildcard qualifier position in the New Zealand conference.

But a 78th minute try to Wes Goosen was enough to salvage a late bonus point, leaving the second-placed Hurricanes a scant point clear of the Chiefs with just one game remaining before the finals.

The teams traded blows in a high-octane game, which featured a mix of of free-running rugby and outstanding defence.

The Hurricanes attacked with pace and precision, built on the back of an impressive early scrummaging effort.

It took just six minutes to reap the rewards, lock Vaea Fifita crashing over out wide after an initial Vince Aso break.

An equalising try looked inevitable, especially with the Chiefs ramping up the set-piece pressure, and Aaron Cruden duly delivered after 24 minutes.

The Canes' scrambling defence looked to have held the Chiefs out, but a Beauden Barrett clearance only found winger Solomon Alaimalo in space.

The wing linked with Charlie Ngatai, in only his second game of the season, who off-loaded to send Cruden over.

The Chiefs were without Cruden at the restart, opting not to use their star first-five after his knee took a twist in a try-saving Aso tackle.

Damian McKenzie shifted from fullback to No.10 to run the backline, but it was up front where the battles continued to be fought, the Chiefs particularly uncompromising at the breakdown.

They had a decent chance to break the deadlock early in the second stanza when McKenzie hooked wide a 25m penalty, but looked in trouble as the hour mark ticked over.

Michael Allardice, in for concussed All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick, was yellow-carded for cleaning out Canes halfback TJ Perenara at the ruck.

But the Chiefs' seven-man scrum held strong, the ball was shifted to replacement wing Shaun Stevenson, who swerved through the defence then found Lowe for the crucial try.

McKenzie nailed a 74th minute penalty to put the Chiefs 17-7 ahead, but the Hurricanes hit back from an attacking lineout four minutes later, shifting the ball wide for Goosen to crash over.

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