Under a hot sun in Hamilton, the Chiefs Manawa ran in five tries to one, but that told little of the stern contest at the breakdown, where the Hurricanes tackled tenaciously and had several chances in the second spell.
The Chiefs Manawa had to lean on their scrum, anchored by tighthead prop Tanya Kalounivale, the allround skills and nous of fullback Hazel Tubic – the game’s outstanding figure – and some well-taken tries to subdue a determined Hurricanes outfit which finally had its first run after a disrupted build-up.
There was much open rugby from both sides in ideal conditions, but the Chiefs Manawa copped a slew of penalties from referee Maggie Cogger-Orr for holding on in the tackle, not rolling away or leaving their feet at the breakdown. They found themselves down to 13 for a time with loose forwards Victoria Edmonds and Kennedy Simon both yellow-carded.
There was a lot of merit in the effort of the Hurricanes, though they will be kicking themselves for not converting second half opportunities. No 10 Carys Dallinger took the ball to the line well but mistakes at crucial moments by others were costly.
Some of the hits were heavy, but there was no better defence than Tubic’s grassing tackle on Hurricanes wing Ayesha Leti-I’iga.
Tubic then gave the last pass for second five Renee Wickliffe to open the scoring after a concerted team movement.
Hooker Luka Connor’s try, in which she fended off Selica Winiata, saw the Chiefs take a 12-8 lead into the break. The Hurricanes’ first try went to lock Joanah Ngan-Woo off tremendous lead-up work by midfielders Monica Tagoai and Janna Vaughan.
Bolstered by some reinforcements at halftime, the Chiefs’ lead was extended to 17-8 when Porta Woodman crossed in the corner off a long Kelly Brazier pass, not the first time those two have combined to good effect.
The Hurricanes pushed hard for most of the second spell, but could not break down the Chiefs’ stiff and gutsy defensive line.
The home team finished with a flourish via two late tries to Tubic and Mia Anderson, the latter well after 70 minutes.
Now well ensconced at the top of the table, the Chiefs Manawa will be eyeing up the silverware as they contemplate their final round match against the Blues at the same venue on Sunday.
Chiefs Manawa 29 (Renee Wickliffe, Luka Connor, Portia Woodman, Hazel Tubic, Mia Anderson tries; Kelly Brazier 2 con) Hurricanes Poua 8 (Joanah Ngan-Woo try; Carys Dallinger pen) HT: 12-8 Chiefs Manawa