Four-try winger wrecks Blues hopes for a win
BLUES 34 CHIEFS 41
To the fore ... Chiefs winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma crosses over for one of four tries. Photo: Getty Images
Fleet-footed winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma has produced a four-try performance to help the Chiefs beat the Blues 41-34 and ensure they go into Super Rugby's June break at the top of the table.
The Blues had threatened an upset when they fought back to level the scores with 15 minutes to go.
But Tikoirotuma's final effort, when he showed plenty of gas to get to fullback Robbie Robinson's kick, proved to be the decisive moment of a pulsating contest in Auckland on Saturday night.
In the headline battle between two All Blacks midfielders, the Chiefs' Sonny Bill Williams outpointed opposite Ma'a Nonu, adding a spectacular try to a lively display at North Harbour Stadium.
The match was punctuated by three yellow cards, two in quick succession in the first half to Blues flanker Steven Luatua and Chiefs winger Maritino Nemani for lifting tackles.
Chiefs lock Michael Fitzgerald was binned in the second spell for punching when he had his jersey held, and referee Chris Pollock also referred all three incidents to a citing commissioner.
Rookie Blues centre Francis Saili scored the night's opening try when he stepped around No.10 Aaron Cruden.
But Cruden made quick amends when his well-weighted stab kick was dotted down by Tikoirotuma.
The Blues were then made to pay for losing possession when trying to run the ball out from deep in their own territory, as Williams produced a superb finish, jinking and spinning past four defenders.
With the teams reduced to 14 by yellow cards, the Blues hit back, firstly with a Munro penalty and then a converted try to the same player courtesy of a huge break by fellow winger Rene Ranger.
The Chiefs broke the 20-20 deadlock early in the second half with some good build-up work resulting in Tikoirotuma's second try.
The winger's third was the pick of his haul, coming from a length-of-the-field attack.
Fitzgerald's sinbinning led to another Blues fightback, with fullback Rudi Wulf and then Ranger both scoring - the latter with a brilliant solo effort - before Tikoirotuma produced the decisive blow.
CHIEFS 41 (Aseli Tikoirotuma 4, Sonny Bill Williams tries Aaron Cruden 5 cons 2 pens) bt BLUES 34 (Lachie Munro, Rene Ranger, Francis Saili, Rudi Wulf tries Munro 4 cons 2 pens) at North Harbour Stadium. Referee: Chris Pollock. Crowd: 20,200.