Super Rugby Aotearoa: Chiefs end win drought with incredible comeback against Hurricanes

  • 20/03/2021

The Chiefs have completed a spectacular second-half comeback against the Hurricanes to snap their losing streak in style in Wellington on Saturday.

Trailing 26-7 at the interval after an opening-half blitz from the hosts, the Chiefs completely swung the momentum in the second stanza, running in four unanswered tries of their own to snatch an improbable 35-29 victory.

The result means the Chiefs avoid the ignominy of a 12th-straight loss - which would have set a new record for consecutive defeats for an NZ side - while ensuring the Hurricanes remain winless in 2021.

Fullback Damian McKenzie was the driving force behind the Chiefs' momentum reversal. The All Black was at his dynamic best, constantly probing the defence and creating one of the tries of the season - an 80m kick return that ended with Brad Weber dotting down. 

Just a minute earlier, McKenzie's deft backhand flick had put Chase Tiatia over the line to spark his side's resurgence.

With 13 minutes remaining, a perfectly executed rolling maul by the Chiefs forwards from an attacking lineout gave them their first lead of the game and their 21st unanswered point.

Jordie Barrett's mammoth long-range penalty - which he from the slotted from the halfway touchline - edged the Hurricanes back in front with less than 10 minutes to play.

Undeterred, the Chiefs kept their pedal to the metal, cashing in on a Hurricanes' error from the restart to put the outstanding Luke Jacobson in for their fourth - and ultimately match-winning - try.

"It would have been pretty easy to fold after the last 10 or so games and going three tries down," said Chiefs captain Sam Cane.

"But I'm proud of the way we stuck to our guns. We never gave up, we hung in there and battled our way back. Hopefully we can build on that."

The Hurricanes opened the scoring in the 11th minute of the contest, with Jordie Barrett planting a huge fend on his All Blacks teammate antn Lienert-Brown, before sending rookie halfback Luke Campbell over the line.

The Chiefs responded immediately through Kaleb Trask, who finished off a powerful run from Samisoni Taukei'aho.

Rising wing Salesi Rayasi then completed a stretch of three tries in five minutes, soaring to claim a Ngani Laumape crossfield kick and showing great strength to spin in the tackle, then reach out to plant the ball on the corner chalk.

Minutes before the half, Rayasi had his second, ghosting through a hole from close range after a period of sustained pressure to earn his side a bonus point with an entire half still to be played.

But in the end, the age-old trope of 'a game of two halves' had seldom been more appropriate, as the Chiefs stormed back to break Hurricanes' hearts in the second forty.

Chiefs 35 (Kaleb Trask, Chase Tiatia, Brad Weber, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Luke Jacobson tries; Damian McKenzie 5 cons) Hurricanes 29 (Salesi Rayasi 2, Luke Campbell, Ricky Riccitelli tries; Jordie Barrett 3 cons, pen)