Friday, June 21, 2024
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Chiefs beat Force, Hurricanes top Rebels in Super Rugby

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND (AP) – All Blacks centre Quinn Tupaea scored three tries as the Hamilton-based Chiefs beat the Western Force 54-21 yesterday to consolidate fourth place in Super Rugby Pacific.

Tupaea touched down twice in a competitive first half after which the Chiefs led 21-7. The Perth-based Force had their best period of the match at the end of the first half when they were almost constantly on attack and scored their first try through former Chiefs winger Toni Pulu.

But Tupaea scored his third in the 46th minute to herald a strong second half from the Chiefs who scored five more tries in an eight tries to three, bonus-point win.

The Chiefs’ forward pack was dominant throughout the match and set up the win with a strong set piece. The Force managed to rally after poor starts to both halves but still were overwhelmed by a Chiefs side that now is clear in fourth place.

A win over the Fijian Drua in Suva next week in the final regular-season round will guarantee the Chiefs a home quarterfinal.

“We’re pretty happy with that,” Chiefs captain Brad Weber said. “We’re trying to find a bit of momentum after maybe losing a bit of our mojo. It’s nice to come out and show a bit of attitude in both halves which sets you up for what’s to come.”

The Chiefs needed 13 minutes to break down the Force defence for their first try which went to Tupaea. Prop Aiden Ross drove through their defence for their second and Tupaea completed a first-half double to give the Chiefs a 21-0 lead after 30 minutes.

The Force made a strong finish to the half which resulted in Pulu’s try from a cross-kick by flyhalf Jake McIntyre.

Tupaea gave the Chiefs a fast start to the second half with his third and fullback Kelvin Trask added another to make it 33-7.

All Blacks lock Tupou Vaa’i followed a strong run by Pita-Gus Sowakula in the 57th minute to put the Chiefs ahead 40-7.

In a rapid reply, former All Blacks lock Jeremy Thrush scored a second try for the Force who remained threatening throughout the match.

Two late tries to hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho on either side of a try to Michael McDonald for the Force clinched the Chiefs’ bonus-point performance.

Later, the Hurricanes scored seven tries in a 45-22 win over the Melbourne Rebels while winger Lukas Ripley scored a hat-trick as a replacement for the Rebels.

Former All Blacks winger Julian Savea opened the scoring for the Hurricanes with a try after only three minutes and remained a force throughout the match with his barnstorming runs.

Tries to Billy Proctor and Blake Gibson opened a 17-3 lead for the Hurricanes after 19 minutes, before Matt Toomu’a put Ripley away for his first try.

The Hurricanes widened their lead to 26-8 by halftime but suffered a lapse early in the second spell which enabled Ripley to score again and the Rebels to draw closer at 26-15.

A strong forward effort allowed the Hurricanes to reassert themselves and they scored through Jordie Barrett and flyhalf Aidan Morgan before Ripley completed his hat-trick.

The Hurricanes had to overcome the loss of several players to flu in a season disrupted by COVID-19 while the Rebels lost playmaker Reece Hodge early to a knee injury.

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