WELLINGTON // The Waikato Chiefs surged to the top of the Super 14 standings with a 16-8 win over the Wellington Hurricanes at Hamilton. The Chiefs shook off the effects of jet lag after returning from South Africa this week to win the top of the table clash with their fellow New Zealanders. The win put the Chiefs in pole position for a home semi-final with only one round of the regular season to go.
Chiefs fly-half Stephen Donald scored all of his team's points, landing three first-half penalties then converting his own try early in the second half. The Chiefs led 9-8 at the break and scored the only points in the second half when Donald slipped past prop John Schwalger then sidestepped the Wellington fullback Cory Jane to score under the posts. "It's a wonderful night," the Chiefs captain Mils Muliaina said.
"It was a very gutsy effort. It was really close and our team was really patient and we got there in the end." Hurricanes winger David Smith scored the only try of the first half but missed a golden opportunity for a second that would have kept his team in the match when he dropped the ball with the line open seven minutes from the end. Willie Ripia landed a first-half penalty but failed with four other attempts at goal as the Hurricanes surrendered their place at the top of the standings and missed out on a bonus point.
"The Chiefs played really well today and showed why they're top," the Hurricanes skipper Rodney So'oialo said. "We missed a lot of opportunities today and in crucial games like this you've got to take them." *Reuters