Super Rugby Pacific: Chiefs extend winning start to eight games against Fijian Drua at Hamilton

The Chiefs have shrugged off torrential rain and the plucky Fijian Drua to run up half a century of points and extend their unbeaten start to Super Rugby Pacific 2023.

The streak now stands at eight games for the tabletoppers, who ran in three tries in the last 10 minutes to put the contest beyond reach for their rivals, who had hald them scoreless for half an hour after the break.

Kicked off in a heavy downpour, the prospects of a freeflowing contest seemed remote, but both teams combined for 43 points in the first half, as the home side were quickly on top with converted tries to Cortez Ratima and Shaun Stevenson.

Shaun Stevenson scores a try for the Chiefs
Shaun Stevenson scores a try for the Chiefs. Photo credit: Getty Images

The Drua provided a glimpse of their ability, grabbing two tries in the opening 40 minutes, but could not stop a rampaging home outfit, high on confidence and sitting atop the competition table.

Kaylum Boshier and Damien McKenzie extended the lead to 24-7, centre Michael Naitokani pulled one back from a period of sustained pressure, but Samisoni Taukei'aho immediately capitalised on a mistake at the kickoff to put the Chiefs 31-12 up at the break.

Both teams had to ride out yellow cards and the Chiefs began the second half without winger Etene Nanai-Seturo. Just before his return, winger Ilaisa Droasese scored the Drua's third try, as they pulled within two converted touchdowns.

Despite a wealth of possession and position - and another yellow card to Drua prop to Haereiti Hetet - the Chiefs could not crack the Fijian defence, forcing McKenzie into a desperation penalty shot at goal to try to break the deadlock.

He missed, but with 10 minutes left, stand-in skipper Brodie Retallick finally found the tryline and the Drua resistance fell away to allow lock Tupou Vaa'i and Nanai-Seturo across in the dying moments.

"It just shows the skill level and the belief the boys are playing with at the moment," reflected Retallick of the 50-point performance.

"At times, we might have needed to kick it and put some more pressure on the Drua, but there was some outstanding work, especially from the outside backs tonight.

"We were camped down here for a good 10 or so minutes, and couldn't come away with any points. We eventually took the penalty to try and reset, but that was credit to their defence that held us out for a long time."

McKenzie's 15-point haul elevated him above Hurricanes' Jordie Barrett as top pointscorer in the competition.

The Chiefs will face six-time defending champions the Crusaders next Saturday.

Chiefs 50 (Ratima, Boshier, McKenzie, Taukei'aho, Retallick, Vaa'i, Nanai-Seturo & Stevenson tries; McKenzie 5 conversions) Fijian Drua 17 (Canakaivata, Droasese & Naitokani tries; Tela conversion)