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Chiefs stay top of Super Rugby with comeback win over Bulls

Date

Chiefs 28 Bulls 22

Lelia Masaga of the Chiefs sneaks past Wynand Olivier of the Bulls.

Lelia Masaga of the Chiefs sneaks past Wynand Olivier of the Bulls. Photo: Getty Images

The Chiefs surged to the top of the Super Rugby ladder on Friday after a late try saw off the the Bulls 28-22 in Hamilton.

MATCH STATS

The Chiefs scored three tries to one in a tightly contested match in which the lead changed six times, coming back from a lacklustre first half to outscore the Bulls 20-6 after the break.

The Bulls' rolling maul and Morne Steyn's boot kept the dogged South Africans within touching distance but a Sam Cane try 10 minutes from time proved decisive.

"We're thrilled that we could kick on in a very tight game," Chiefs captain Craig Clarke said.

"We didn't want to play a controlled, structured sort of game, that's more their style, we wanted to up the tempo a little bit."

The loss cost the Bulls a chance of overhauling the Western Stormers in the South African conference and their arch-rivals can draw level with the Chiefs in the overall standings with a win over the Coastal Sharks on Sunday.

Skipper Pierre Spies said that while he regarded two wins on the Bulls' four-match tour as a good return, he was frustrated Friday's match slipped away.

"They put us under pressure at the breakdown and we couldn't get our game going, then they got that try," he said.

"We thought we had a chance but that try made it very difficult for us."

The opening stages were fast-moving but mistake-ridden, with the scores locked on 3-3 after a penalty apiece after 15 minutes as defence dominated.

The Bulls' renowned forward pack twice threatened to set up tries through rolling mauls but could not break through and Steyn eventually settled for a drop goal on 22 minutes.

The Chiefs hit back against the run of play when Akona Ndungane spilled a speculative Aaron Cruden kick and opened the way for Andrew Horrell to soccer the ball over the line then touch down for a try.

Cruden tried the same tactic five minutes later but the Bulls' defence was alive to the danger and the South Africans again built pressure through the forwards, earning a penalty which Steyn kicked from 45 metres out.

Winger Bjorn Basson scored his eighth try of the season from the back of a Bulls' maul just before half time, outpacing Lelia Masaga for the five-pointer with Steyn adding the conversion to make it 16-8 at the break.

The Chiefs lifted after the restart, narrowing the gap to 14-19 as they notched two penalties to one, then taking the lead after Asaeli Tikoirotuma crossed with a slick move from a set piece off the scrum.

But the Chiefs immediately surrendered the advantage with a soft penalty, gifting Steyn his fourth penalty to make it 22-21.

The New Zealanders continued to run the ball and Cane brought the home crowd to life 10 minutes from time, latching onto a Sonny Bill Williams offload for the Chiefs' third try.

A Cruden penalty extended the lead to 28-22 and the Bulls could not break through before the clock ran down.

CHIEFS 28 (Sam Cane, Andrew Horrell, Aseli Tikoirotuma tries Aaron Cruden 2 cons 3 pens) bt BULLS 22 (Bjorn Basson try Morne Steyn con 4 pens drop goal) at Waikato Stadium. Referee: Mark Lawrence.

AFP

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
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Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
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Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
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Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
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Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
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ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
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Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
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Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
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Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG vs AUS 01:30Twic
WAL vs RSA 01:30MilS
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