Chiefs upset Hurricanes in Super Rugby semifinal

rugby15 June 2024 07:05| Ā© AFP
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Damian McKenzie Ā© Getty Images

A Chiefs side inspired by fly-half Damian McKenzie upset the Hurricanes 30-19 on Saturday to set up a Super Rugby final against the Blues.

The Chiefs scored two of their three tries in the opening six minutes to take control of the semifinal in Wellington and a perfect six-from-six shots at goal from fly-half McKenzie kept them in front.

The Blues will host the all-New Zealand final at Eden Park next Saturday after they beat the Brumbies 34-20 in Friday's semifinals.

Both teams have lost finals to the Crusaders over the last two seasons, with the Chiefs falling short last year.

They'll chase their first title since winning back-to-back finals in 2012 and 2013 while the three-time champion Blues last claimed the Super Rugby silverware in 2003.

The top-qualifying Hurricanes were favoured to advance in front of their home supporters and stretch their winning streak at home to 10 matches.

However, they were rocked onto the back foot early on and couldn't recover from a 17-7 halftime deficit, with McKenzie dictating play with his boot in general play as well as amassing 15 points.

The Chiefs lost fullback Shaun Stevenson to an undisclosed injury before kickoff while their All Blacks hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho limped off with a leg ailment midway through the first half.

The visitors were reduced to 14 players twice in the matcch, with Samipeni Finau shown a yellow card for a late collision in the first half and fellow-flanker Luke Jacobson sanctioned the same way for a similar offence after the break.

However, their defence largely held firm, reducing the threat of a Hurricanes attack which has terrorised defences this season.

The Chiefs raced 14-0 ahead through sweeping tries to Finau and scrum-half Cortez Ratima.

Both were converted by McKenzie, who added a penalty before the Hurricanes got a foothold in the game, crossing through flanker Peter Lakai.

McKenzie's second penalty stretched the lead to 13 points before a high-octane Hurricanes attack ended in a try to fly-half Brett Cameron.

The match swung on an intercept from 21-year-old back row forward Wallace Sititi, who stormed 60m downfield after an intercept, setting up a try to Daniel Rona.

A 50m penalty goal from McKenzie was followed by a consolation Hurricanes try to Billy Proctor.