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Injury-plagued Chiefs thrash Blues

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Sportal.co.nz     03 Mar 2012     Getty Images

It was an outstanding demonstration, especially after four key Chiefs starters were forced out of consideration due to injuries suffered in their first round game and the effort was beyond what even the most loyal of the 12,113 fans who braved the poor weather might have expected.

On the other hand, it was a kick in the pants for the Blues who head out for South Africa on Saturday having two losses and looking bereft of any understanding of how to get themselves back in the game. They were not even able to take advantage of numerous Chiefs breakdown offences.

Robinson's speed on the break had all the hallmarks of the legendary Mils Muliaina, the previous Chiefs rearguard ,and his link pass to wing Asaeli Tikoirotuma provided him with all the opportunity he needed to score the second try of the night in the 22nd minute.

Then Nanai-Williams took a high downfield kick from the Blues in defence and while held, he released the ball, picked it up again and then wriggled away on an evasive run towards the line. From the ruck the ball was cleared and ferrety halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow, who relished his starting role, slipped through for the third try in the 30th minute.

Robinson was in the action again, almost unbelievably, when flanker Liam Messam secured the ball from a screwing scrum. He ran wide then fed Kerr-Barlow who reversed the ball to Robinson, who again raced 45m to set up ball for locks Brodie Retallick and Craig Clarke to charge forward for a ruck which saw Nanai-Williams cross for the bonus point try.

Nothing the Blues tried came off in the difficult conditions and in the face of torrid Chiefs defence. It was the perfect riposte from the home team for their disappointments of the first round loss to the Highlanders.

Even normally assured Keven Mealamu, now the most capped Super Rugby New Zealand player with 137 caps, was caught unsupported when breaking early in the first half. The Chiefs effectiveness in disrupting the Blues was that efficient.

Halfback Piri Weepu was introduced but he wasn't any more successful than Alby Mathewson, knocking the ball on at a key stage early after his arrival.

An early penalty to the Chiefs in midfield was perfectly executed by first five-eighths Aaron Cruden who landed the ball centimetres from the goal-line. At the resulting lineout the ball was secured by Clarke and from the drive prop Sona Taumalolo got the ball in the maul and touched down wide out.

Cruden demonstrated his 100 percent record in the opening round was no fluke by landing a fine conversion from the sideline. Three minutes later, after seven minutes, landed a 45m penalty goal to reinforce the point as the Chiefs got out to a 10-0 lead.

The Blues lineout problems for the first round were evident early on with the loss of a lineout in the Chiefs 22m area and it was cleared down field while a second loss was less punishing because the Chiefs knocked the ball on.

After Michael Hobbs landed a 14th minute penalty goal, the Chiefs failed to kick the restart 10m but from the scrum, Blues halfback Alby Mathewson attempted to put a grubber kick through and it was nudged ahead by Clarke and while it was touched down by Blues fullback Isaia Toeava he had to wait an age for the ball to arrive. As it was it was only a fraction of a second ahead of Messam.

When the Blues did win their first lineout, 20 minutes into the game, they looked more fluid and a penalty chance was provided for Hobbs which he landed from in front.

A late try to wing Sherwin Stowers was minor consolation and replacement five-eighths Gareth Anscombe's failure to convert summed up the Blues' night.

Scorers:

Chiefs 29 (Sona Taumalolo Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Tim Nanai-Williams try; Aaron Cruden 3 con, pen ) Blues 14 (Sherwin Stowers try; Michael Hobbs 3 pen ). HT: 29-6