Nine-try Chiefs crush Force in Hamilton

The Chiefs have pounced on more second-half wobbles from the Force to romp to a 53-10 win and ensure they stay top of Super Rugby’s Australasian group.

The home side led 12-10 at halftime in Hamilton on Saturday but powered across for seven of their nine tries in a lop-sided second spell, including four to second five-eighth Charlie Ngatai.

Coming off a successful tour of South Africa and Argentina, it extends the Chiefs’ winning streak to three.

It was a third successive loss for the hapless Force and mirrored their 41-6 thumping from the Hurricanes last week, when their defence evaporated late.

The winning margin was a record for the Chiefs against the Western Australian outfit, while Ngatai equalled the franchise record for tries in a game, moving level with former wingers Sitiveni Sivivatu and Asaeli Tikoirotuma.

A heavy travel schedule and mounting injury toll didn’t hamper the two-time champions.

They played at high speed from the opening whistle, and their classy backline thrived off a quality Chiefs forward effort led by Japan captain Michael Leitch at No.8.

Fullback Damian McKenzie crossed twice to extend his competition-leading tryscoring tally to six. He also leads the point-scoring list with 85 despite an off-night with the boot, landing three from eight shots at goal.

The Chiefs have established themselves as the competition entertainers after conjuring 28 tries in their first five games.

Their opener on Saturday was probably the best of the lot, sweeping 90m as four players – McKenzie, Brad Weber, Aaron Cruden and James Lowe – touched the ball at least twice each to send the diminutive McKenzie over.

The Force responded with their lone try to centre Ben Tapuai before Leitch powered over from a scrum just before halftime.

Ngatai’s first try came from quick hands but the floodgates truly opened when Force No.8 Angus Cottrell was shown a yellow card for a lifting tackle on winger Sam McNicol in the 56th minute.

Three tries were scored while the visitors were down to 14, to Lowe, Ngatai and reserve winger Toni Pulu from his first touch in Super Rugby.

The visitors’ plight was summed up when the Chiefs chased down what seemed to be a certain Force intercept try to Solomoni Rasolea, who lost his nerve and passed, resulting in a breakdown in play.

McKenzie bagged his second try and Ngatai his last two before the final points were claimed by Stephen Donald.

The former All Blacks first five-eighth was greeted by an enormous roar when he nudged over the game’s last conversion, having come off the bench in his first Chiefs appearance since 2011.

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