Hurricanes outclass game Chiefs 21-13

The home town boys shone as the Hurricanes stamped their status as Super Rugby favourites with a 21-13 win over the Chiefs.

The runaway competition leaders scored three tries to one to ensure they will finish 13 points clear of the field heading into the play-offs starting next weekend.

James Marshall scored a try, as did Conrad Smith as the Hurricanes overcame a slow start to score the last 21 points of a tense affair.

They will get a week off before hosting the lowest-ranked qualifiers in a semi-final on June 27. The fifth-placed Chiefs must travel to Dunedin to face the fourth-placed Highlanders in a qualifying final next week.

The Hurricanes’ 14-2 return equals the competition record achieved by the Stormers in 2012 but is superior based on their 10 bonus points earned compared to two by the South African side.

They took their chances more efficiently in a bruising clash as the Chiefs sought to avenge the 22-18 loss in Wellington a month ago.

With a healthy breeze at their back, the Chiefs powered 13-0 ahead following a 70m intercept try to wing Bryce Heem and two penalties to first five-eighth Marty McKenzie.

However, that was to be the last of their scoring as momentum swung in a key moment in the 35th minute.

Chiefs fullback Tom Marshall, the brother of James, was ruled to have shoulder-charged Julian Savea when the Hurricanes wing spilled the ball over the tryline.

The outcome was a yellow card for Marshall and a penalty try, which was hotly disputed by the Chiefs, who believed Savea had lost control before contact.

Playing against 14 men, James Marshall capitalised with a sizzling break to send captain Smith over to establish a 14-13 halftime lead.

James Marshall, who scored 11 points, snaffled an intercept from McKenzie in the 54th minute in the game’s final try before errors crept in from both teams.

The Chiefs needed a 37-point win to sneak ahead of the Highlanders but that was never threatened.

They began strongly, dominating the set pieces and defending ferociously, no more so than when Smith was hit in a bone-rattler by inside centre Sonny Bill Williams, who was a powerful presence in his first game back after nursing a back injury for a month.

Hurricanes wing Cory Jane limped off early with an apparent recurrence of the hamstring injury which has sidelined him for the last month.

He has two weeks to recover for a semi-final against either the sixth-placed Brumbies, if they win their qualifying final away from home next week, or otherwise the winner of the Highlanders-Chiefs game.

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