Sowakula's try helps Chiefs overcome the Hurricanes
April 24, 2021 6:50 am
Chiefs celebrate after beating the Hurricanes [Source: NZ Herald]
Fiji born Pita Gus Sowakula scored a try for the Chiefs as they overcame the Hurricanes 26-24 in the Super Rugby Aotearoa thriller in Hamilton .
Sowakula drove over to claim the Chiefs first try.
Damian McKenzie did it again, kicking the Chiefs one step closer to the final with a 45-metre strike, two minutes into added time.
Two weeks ago in Dunedin McKenzie knocked over the match-winning penalty to sink the Highlanders in golden-point extra time; last week he nailed another late penalty to push the Chiefs in front against the Crusaders.
This is Chiefs’ fifth win in succession that leaves them five points ahead of the third-placed Blues in the race for this year’s maiden final.
One month ago in Wellington the Hurricanes inexplicably blew a 19-point lead against the Chiefs – that win sparking the change in fortunes for a team that had lost 11 matches in a row.
Second half tries to replacements Billy Proctor and Asafo Aumua gave the Hurricanes a one-point lead with 11 minutes to play but they could not hold on at the death.
The Hurricanes now depart heartbroken and rooted at the bottom of the table with one win from seven games.
The Chiefs can, meanwhile, sit back, rest up and watch the Blues take on the Crusaders in Christchurch while contemplating a final round trip to Eden Park that could decide who reaches the final.
The Hurricanes took the match to the Chiefs early with James Blackwell claiming the opening try in the second minute after busting through and putting on a right-foot step following a sly short ball from Tyrel Lomax.
That seemed to rock the Chiefs, with Gatland kicking out on the full from the restart which allowed the Hurricanes to immediately resume their initial onslaught.
The visitors should have garnered greater rewards from their early dominance but Dane Coles, assuming the captaincy from the injured Ardie Savea, elected to take a quick tap and Peter Umaga-Jensen spilled the ball to squander the early dominance.
Anton Lienert-Brown dropped the ball over the line and midfield partner Alex Nankivell was pushed out in the corner down a narrow short side and so it was left to the dominant Chiefs scrum to lead the way.
With Ross shunting All Blacks tight-head Lomax, the Chiefs twice overpowered the Hurricanes scrum.
On the second occasion, Pita Gus Sowakula drove over to claim the Chiefs first try.
Other than the opening exchanges the Chiefs had the better of the first half but Barrett nailed a 55-metre penalty as the halftime hooter sounded to lock the teams up 10-all at the break.
The tight tussle continued throughout the second spell until McKenzie’s clutch talents again stepped up.
Chiefs 26 (Pita Gus Sowakula, Bryn Gatland tries; Damian McKenzie 2 cons, 4 pens)
Hurricanes 24 (James Blackwell, Billy Proctor, Asafo Aumua tries; Jordie Barrett 3 cons, pen)
[Source: NZ Herald]