The Chiefs have returned from last year’s winless Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign with two first-up pre-season victories over the Blues and Hurricanes in Upper Hutt on Saturday.
The three North Island franchises took part in a game-of-three-halves at Maidstone Park, with each side facing off against each other one half at a time.
Without any of their 2020 All Blacks, the Chiefs emerged victorious in both of their encounters, running out 19-14 winners against the Hurricanes before following that up with a 12-5 win over the Blues.
In the place of their established stars, the Chiefs fielded numerous non-contracted and second-string players, as did the Blues and Hurricanes, although the hosts did have Peter Umaga-Jensen and Du’Plessis Kirifi, both of whom were part of last year’s All Blacks Tri-Nations squad.
There was also plenty of chopping and changing of players between all of the halves across all three teams, with players given the chance to shake off some pre-season rust and impress their respective coaches for places in starting teams.
In the first of the three halves, the Hurricanes bagged an early lead through hooker James O’Reilly, before his opposite Samisoni Taukei’aho dotted down in the 11th minute.
A Ruben Love try and conversion edged the Hurricanes out to a nine-point buffer, but converted tries to two-test All Blacks loose forward Luke Jacobson and non-contracted lock Samipeni Finau were enough for the Chiefs to win.
The second half saw the Chiefs do battle with the Blues in a tight affair, with a try to Shaun Stevenson and a penalty try cancelling out the Harry Plummer try to give Clayton McMillan’s side victory.
The final half pitted the Hurricanes and Blues against each other, and it was the Aucklanders who got off to the better start when promising fullback Zarn Sullivan crossed the line in the fifth minute.
However, tries to halfback Jonathan Taumateine and wing Wes Goosen later in the half were enough to see the Hurricanes home.
The final week of Super Rugby Aotearoa pre-season kicks-off next Friday when the Highlanders take on the Hurricanes in Alexandra, while the Blues and Crusaders will square off at Eden Park on Saturday.
Super Rugby Aotearoa kicks-off on February 26 when the Highlanders host the Crusaders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Chiefs 19 (Tries to Samisoni Taukei’aho, Luke Jacobson, Samipeni Finau; 2 conversions to Bryn Gatland)
Hurricanes 14 (Tries to James O’Reilly, Ruben Love; 2 conversions to Love)
Chiefs 12 (Try to Shaun Stevenson, penalty try)
Blues 5 (Try to Harry Plummer)
Hurricanes 14 (Tries to Jonathan Taumateine, Wes Goosen; 2 conversions to Jackson Garden-Bachop)
Blues 5 (Try to Zarn Sullivan)
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