Hurricanes - 29 Chiefs - 35
FULLTIME - The Chiefs have done it! Unbelivable comeback by the visitors, who break their long losing streak in incredible style, fighting back from a 26-7 halftime deficit. Check out the highlights here.
80 mins - Veteran move from McKenzie, who takes his sweet time with the shot at goal. Ultimately it misses, leaving 30 seconds left for the hosts.
78 mins - Canes concede the defensive penalty at their own 22m, Jacobson all over that one at the ruck. They point to the posts, and McKenzie will have a chance to seal the deal.
75 mins - TRY CHIEFS - Too much tryline pressure and Luke Jacobson latches on to a deft short ball from Naitoa Ah Kuoi to crash over for what may well be the match-winning try. Wow. Conversion is an easy one.
74 mins - Canes fumble the restart and the Chiefs are hot on the attack, just 5m out now...
71 mins - Canes recycle at halfway. Chiefs launching into their defensive work. High tackle on Laumape, and that's a penalty for the Canes. Barrett looks to the posts to measure the range, 50m out and right on the left hand touch...signals for the shot.
He's nailed it! That was exceptional. The Canes have edged back in front with seven minutes to play.
70 mins - Penalty Canes. Barrett wants a shot, 40m out on the angle... and he's shanked it.
67 mins - TRY CHIEFS - Perfectly rolling maul from 5m out, as the Chiefs forwards remain patient and it pays off. McKenzie slots the conversion to put the Chiefs in front. 21 unanswered points for the visitors, what a swing.
66 mins - Weber knocks on but they Chiefs were under penalty advantage. Back to another 5m lineout.
65 mins - Penalty Chiefs. They turn down a handy shot at three points for a 5m lineout. Bold move.
62 mins - Lovely touch on the kick from Weber, who pins the Canes inside the 22m for a lineout. You can feel the momentum has shifted massively here.
58 mins - TRY CHIEFS - That's right, Chiefs fans, it's game on! Vintage McKenzie, who carves up with a kick return, finds Tiatia, who links with Weber to complete an 80m movement. Conversion over, and we are all on now.
57 mins - TRY CHIEFS - McKenzie with a delicate backhand flick to Chase Tiatia, who was running a great angle at the try line and reaches out to score in the tackle. Huge for the Chiefs, who've looked much better in the second half.
56 mins - Another penalty blown up. This time the Chiefs will advance to a 5m lineout.
54 mins - Chiefs kick in behind the line and referee rules that a chaser was impeded. Penalty goes their way, and they'll go to a lineout at the Canes 22m.
51 mins - High tackle penalty for the Canes, and this time they opt for a 5m scrum, rather than a lineout. Well that's backfired, defensive penalty to the Chiefs, who'll relieve some pressure.
49 mins - Beautiful jinx from Rayasi to unlock the defence, finds Barrett who kicks to start the chase. Trask has to clear, and it will be a 5m lineout for the Canes.
47 mins - Canes hold up the maul and force the turnover. Scrum at the Chiefs' 10m.
45 mins - Bit of aerial ping-pong ends with a Chiefs lineout at halfway.
44 mins - Eight phases deep now, as the Canes defence scrambles well. McKenzie snipes for half a gap, looks to have been stopped short but the referees want to take a look at this. Replay shows McKenzie has released the ball, regathered and grounded it on the line. But the TMO rules that McKenzie was still on his knees and didn't play the ball correctly, so it's a penalty to the Canes.
42 mins - Assured start from the Chiefs, who cash in their penalty advantage for a 5m lineout.
41 mins - Chiefs with the ball from the restart, 35m out.
Second half underway...
HALFTIME - It's starting to get ugly here for the Chiefs. The Canes already have the four-try bonus point, and the visitors have to be the next team to score to have any chance of keeping this contest alive. Join us back here shortly for the second half.
40 mins - High tackle advantage being played as the halftime hooter sounds. Chiefs inside the Canes' 22m.
Canes defence holds and back we go for the penalty. Chiefs will look to launch from a 5m lineout. Weber into some space, he's over the line but confortably held up, and that will send us into the sheds for halftime.
39 mins - Chiefs throw a lineout at the Canes' 10m. They'll be desperate for some points before the half.
37 mins - TRY HURRICANES - Simple two-out from the ruck and it's Salesi Rayasi who wrangles over the chalk for his second try of the night. Bonus point already up for the Canes. Barrett nails the conversion on the angle.
36 mins - Chiefs shut down the 5m lineout maul clinically. Pick and go at short range.
34 mins - Penalty advantage blown up. Back they'll go for another 5m lineout. Chiefs under huge pressure. Ball somehow springs loose and the Chiefs are there first, but they concede another penalty at the first ruck. Back to the corner, we go.
32 mins - Julian Savea beats one, takes play over halfway. Riccitelli bursts through a huge hole in the midfield, cut down at the 22m. Crossfield kick again and McKenzie can only run it into touch. Canes lineout 5m out.
30 mins - Chiefs in the shadow of the goalposts now. Trask makes a half break. Through the phases, they go. Canes hold firm defensively and they force a mistake, Kirifi right in the thick of it. They'll pack the scrum on their own 22m.
27 mins - Ledger too strong with his clearance and the ball rolls dead. Chiefs will feed a scrum on the Canes' 10m.
22 mins - TRY HURRICANES - Trask bungles a Canes kick and the locals find themselves 5m out. Laumape looks to the crossfield kick, which Salesi Rayasi makes look good by reaching back to receive it, turning in the tackle and showing great strength to reach out and plant the ball on the line. Barrett converts.
20 mins - Jonah Lowe with room on the right flank, as the Chiefs work towards the Canes' 22m. Walker-Leawere does well to earn the defensive penalty. Barrett maks a bold crossfield kick that doesn't quite come off. Eventually clears again, and Mckenzie replies by putting the ball out on the full. Canes lineout at their own 10m.
16 mins - TRY HURRICANES - Make that three tries in the space of five minutes, as Ngani Laumape collects a deft ball to put in him space, then finds Ricky Riccitelli rampaging on the right wing, and the big hooker crashes over in the corner in the tackle of McKenzie. Barrett can't convert.
13 mins - TRY CHIEFS - Instant response from the visitors, as Samisoni Taukei'aho powers through defenders and finds Kaleb Trask in support, who goes under the black dot.
11 mins - TRY HURRICANES - Barrett breaks in the midfield with a huge fend on Anton Lienert-Brown, patiently assesses his supporting options before linking with Luke Campbell inside, who sprints the final 20m to score. Barrett converts.
9th min - Chiefs pinged for a second motion on the ground, Canes relieve the pressure back to a 10m lineout.
7th min - Promising attacking movement for the Chiefs falls apart. Ledger clears well. Lineout just outside the 22m, Chiefs still on the offensive.
6th min - Weber breaks from the base of the scrum, peels off 20m before finding his wing. Canes scramble well in defence and force a penalty. Barrett misses touch, Chiefs edge towards halfway.
4th min - Kirifi roaming on the right edge. Rookie halfback Luke Campbell spills a straightforward pass, his second mistake to start this one. Chiefs scrum near halfway.
2nd min - Error at the lineout ends that movement before it even got started. Chiefs feed the scrum on their own 22m and work their way out of trouble.
1st min - Referee Ben O'Keeffe blasts his whistle, Hurricanes retrieve their own kick-off, return fire, and Damian McKenzie concedes a penalty for holding on to the ball. The Canes pass up the shot at goal and set the attacking lineout, 10m out.
7:04pm - Both teams now out on the paddock. Let's get this cracking.
7:02pm - Pristine conditions in Wellington for this one. Apparently you can't beat it on a good day, which is bad news for the Chiefs.
Kia ora and welcome to live updates from Wellington, where the Chiefs and the Hurricanes will square off at Sky Stadium.
While both sides are chasing their first win of the year, the stakes are higher for the Chiefs, who are staring down the barrel of falling to a record 12th defeat.
We'll have all the live action for you from 7:05pm.
TAB betting odds:
Hurricanes - $1.61 Chiefs - $2.23
Hurricanes: 1-Xavier Numia, 2-Ricky Riccitelli, 3-Tyrel Lomax, 4-James Blackwell, 5-Isaiah Walker-Leawere, 6-Reed Prinsep, 7-Du’Plessis Kirifi, 8-Ardie Savea (c), 9. Luke Campbell, 10-Orbyn Leger, 11-Salesi Rayasi, 12-Ngani Laumape, 13-Billy Proctor, 14-Julian Savea, 15-Jordie Barrett
Reserves: 16-James O’Reilly, 17-Fraser Armstrong, 18-Tevita Mafileo, 19-Liam Mitchell, 20-Devan Flanders, 21-Jonathan Taumateine, 22-Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23-Wes Goosen.
Chiefs: 1-Aidan Ross, 2-Samisoni Taukei'aho, 3-Angus Ta'avao, 4-Tupou Vaa'i, 5-Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 6-Mitchell Brown, 7-Sam Cane (cc), 8-Luke Jacobson, 9-Brad Weber (cc), 10-Kaleb Trask, 11-Etene Nanai-Seturo, 12-Quinn Tupaea, 13-Anton Lienert-Brown, 14-Jonah Lowe, 15-Damian McKenzie.
Reserves: 16-Bradley Slater, 17-Ollie Norris, 18-Joe Apikotoa, 19-Samipeni Finau, 20-Simon Parker, 21-Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22-Alex Nankivell, 23-Chase Tiatia.
Road to Perdition: Chiefs journey top brink of ignominy
By Will Hewett
Ever since Super Rugby Aotearoa rose from the ashes of the great COVID-19 lockdown of 2020, the Chiefs - or at least their results - have been woeful.
If they can’t upset the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday night, they will break the record for most consecutive defeats by an NZ Super Rugby side, which they currently share at 11 with the 2012-13 Highlanders.
They’re not the all-time worst - yet. South Africa’s Lions still hold the overall record of 14 successive loses from May 2009 to May 2010.
And some may argue that the Highlanders streak was actually worse, because they had the ‘luxury’ of playing the supposedly weaker Australian and South African teams, and not the super-tough back-to-back-to-back local derbies of Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Regardless, defeat on Saturday would see the Chiefs hold the record all by themselves.
Incredibly for the Chiefs, the slump started before the pandemic, more than a year ago now.
Under new coach Warren Gatland, the Waikato-based side actually made a bright 4-2 start to the scheduled Super Rugby competition, beating both the Blues and Crusaders to open their campaign.
But while their results make sorry reading, their record could have been so different with an ounce of composure, some luck and perhaps kinder referee decisions.
The margins of error are so small...
1. March 13, 2020 - Lost to Hurricanes 27-24 at Hamilton
Almost a year to the day after the teams played out a 23-all draw on the same ground, this contest looked like ending in another stalemate.
The Hurricanes built an attack that lasted 35 phases, before a grass-cutter tackle by Chiefs prop Reuben O'Neill saw referee Jaco Peyper blow for the infringement. Jordie Barrett coolly stepped up and nailed the penalty goal to seal a come-from-behind victory.
This result sums up the Waikato’s sides losing streak, as they’ve never been blown off the park, but often find ways to beat themselves.
2. June 13, 2020 - Lost to Highlanders 28-27 in Dunedin
The first professional rugby match with fans after the COVID-19 lockdown provided late drama that poured more misery on Chiefs fans.
Playing under the roof in Dunedin, the Waikato side rallied from a six-point deficit at halftime to lead 27-25 with three minutes remaining. Up stepped Bryn Gatland - son of the Chiefs coach - to slot a 40m drop goal to inflict pain on his father’s side.
Gatland Junior wasn’t initially named in the matchday squad, but a late Josh Ioane injury gave him his shot and he took the opportunity with both hands.
3. June 20, 2020 - Lost to Blues 24-12 in Hamilton
The Chiefs’ lacklustre attack became a trademark of their 2020 season, largely due to Gatland’s defensive game philosophy.
They returned home looking to break their worrying run of form, but ran into an improving Blues outfit. In a sign of things to come, the Aucklanders kept them tryless for their first win in Hamilton since 2011.
4. June 28, 2020 - Lost to Crusaders 18-13 in Christchurch
When you’re a side out of confidence and form, the last place you want to go is down to Christchurch on a cold wet night made for Crusaders rugby.
As they usually do, the home side dominated through their forwards and raced to a 18-3 lead with 17 minutes remaining. Credit to the Chiefs, they finished strong to close within a converted try of victory, but could not complete the comeback.
5. July 5, 2020 - Lost to Hurricanes 25-18 in Hamilton
Next up, the side that started this horrible run of form, but the ‘Canes came into the contest without a victory since that pre-COVID contest.
The visitors raced to a 25-6 lead after 60 minutes, but the Chiefs received a stroke of luck, when Hurricanes lock Scott Scrafton was shown two harsh yellow cards and his side was reduced to 14 for the remaining 25 minutes.
Somehow the Chiefs couldn’t turn their advantage into victory, as the Wellington side somehow hung on for a seven-point victory.
6. July 19, 2020 - Lost to Highlanders 33-31 in Hamilton
The Chiefs hoped to avoid a record five straight home defeats and came out of the sheds on fire. Playing their best rugby of the season, they stormed to a 24-0 lead after 20 minutes, before it all turned to custard.
A moment of controversy - so common during this losing streak - came in the 65th minute.
Still leading by 12 points, the Chiefs had seemingly landed the killer blow, but had a try ruled out by referee Mike Fraser and television match official Brendon Pickerill, who went back more than two phases (which they weren’t permitted to do) and found an offence in the build-up.
With five minutes remaining, Highlanders winger Jona Nareki - remember that name - sliced through for a 50-metre stunner, before a Sio Tomkinson try, converted by Mitch Hunt after the siren, broke Chiefs hearts.
7. July 26, 2020 - Lost to Blues 21-17 in Auckland
With more records on the line, the Chiefs travelled an hour up the motorway to their northern neighbours.
Their attack continued to let them down, but this game will be remembered for another late controversial moment.
When No.8 Pita Gus Sowakula lunged for the line, Blues lock Josh Goodhue wrapped up the ball and won a penalty to deny the visitors a last-second victory.
Chiefs players surrounded the referee, pleading for him to check whether Sowakula had scored, but the home side ultimately held on to inflict a franchise-record seventh straight loss on the visitors.
8. August 1, 2020 - Lost to Crusaders 32-19 in Hamilton
For the third successive game, the Chiefs were hurt by controversy, after rallying from 12-0 down to trail by one with 20 minutes remaining.
Barnstorming Crusaders wing Leicester Fainga’anuku scored a late try, but replays suggested he dropped the ball. The TMO ruled in the visitors’ favour, extending the Chiefs’ club-record losing streak to eight games.
9. August 8, 2020 - Lost to Hurricanes in Wellington 31-18
The last game of the 2020 season - and the last before Gatland took a year off to coach the British & Irish Lions - was against the team that started the Chiefs slide.
The visitors’ rotten luck was summed up, when captain Sam Cane collided with the knee of Hurricanes fullback Jordie Barrett's knee and was taken off with another worrying neck injury.
The Chiefs were never in the contest, as the Hurricanes ran away with the bonus-point victory to end their dreadful season.
10. March 5, 2021 - Lost to Highlanders in Hamilton 39-23
A new year and a new coach brought fresh new hope for a Chiefs side trying to snap their nine-match losing streak. Surely, they couldn’t be as bad as 2020, but the early signs didn’t look good.
The Waikato side started the new season under COVID-19 Alert Level 2, with only about 100 fans in attendance, but they raced out to a 20-6 lead, before the wheels fell off.
Their confidence was shattered, mistakes crept in and a devastating hat-trick display from Nareki - yes, that man again - carried the southerners home, as Clayton McMillan started his sole year in charge in the worst possible way.
11. March 13, 2021 - Lost to Crusaders in Christchurch 39-17
When you’re down, luck seems to have a way of going against you, illustrated by Fainga’anuku’s freakish corner try to pour more misery on the Waikato side.
The Chiefs were 10 points ahead, when the winger wove his magic, but it wasn’t the only frustration for fans, as controversy abounded in this contest.
Cane used a captain’s challenge to review a potential forward pass. The TMO ruled that halfback Brad Webber knocked the ball out of Richie Mo’unga’s hands and back towards his own goal-line, but subsequent replays showed Weber didn't actually make contact with the ball when it deflected..
Compounding the error, Webber then prevented a try from an offside position and was sent to the sin bin, conceding a penalty try.
Referees boss Bryce Lawrence later confirmed the call, which swung the game in favour of the defending champions, was wrong.
Pouring more salt in the wounds, Fainga’anuku also seemed to suggest he had grounded his foot in touch as he scored his miraculous try.