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Unbeaten Chiefs overcome abrasive Bulls

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/04/2017

The Chiefs have survived a fierce challenge from the Bulls to win 28-12 in Hamilton and maintain their unbeaten Super Rugby record.

Down 9-3 at halftime, a spectacular individual effort from Chiefs winger Shaun Stevenson gave his side the lead for the first time after 51 minutes.

They sealed the outcome with the game's second try, when fullback Damien McKenzie ran onto a superb grubber kick from halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow.

Prop Atu Moli crossed near the end to earn them a flattering bonus point.

First five-eighth Aaron Cruden kicked 13 points for the Chiefs while opposite Handre Pollard scored all the Bulls' points with four penalties.

The visitors created problems from the outset with their physicality in defence and hard, direct running.

Like last week against the Blues, they faded late to suffer a fourth loss from five games.

The Chiefs had impressed through the four opening round but looked scratchy coming off a bye.

Cruden said the Chiefs were hard on themselves at halftime.

"We asked the boys for a bit of a mental shift at halftime and they responded," he said.

"Coming off the bye, we were eager to start well but it didn't really transpire that why. The first 40 was pretty disappointing."

While victory was the best way to honour a 150th game for Liam Messam, there was concern over the fitness of another Chiefs loose forward.

All Blacks openside flanker Sam Cane exited in the fourth minute after failing a concussion test, putting him in doubt for the looming tour of South Africa and Australia.

The bright point of the match was unquestionably Stevenson's try, which came from nothing.

Receiving the ball 40m out, he stood up opposite Jamba Ulengo and beat the cover defence to the line following an astute grubber kick.

It is the first time the Chiefs have beaten the Bulls back to back since 2002.

And it means New Zealand sides have beaten offshore teams in 12 out of 12 games so far this season.

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