1 Mar 2015

Chiefs join Canes at top

11:50 am on 1 March 2015

The Chiefs sent an ominous reminder to their rivals why they are favourites to win this year's Super Rugby title with a 40-16 thrashing of the Crusaders in their New Zealand derby in Hamilton.

The Crusaders' Ben Funnell is tackled by by Chiefs' captain Liam Messam in their Super Rugby Match.

The Crusaders' Ben Funnell is tackled by by Chiefs' captain Liam Messam in their Super Rugby Match. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Chasing their third championship in four seasons, the Chiefs flexed their muscles with a five-tries-to-one romp against a Crusaders team that made the final last year but has struggled to reproduce their best form.

The Chiefs, who top the table alongside the unbeaten Hurricanes, have won all three matches they have played this year, each with more conviction than the last, while the Crusaders have managed just one victory from three and suffered one of their heaviest losses in the southern hemisphere competition.

Sonny Bill Williams, back with the Chiefs after spending the last two seasons playing rugby league in Australia, had another big game.

Williams scored his team's first try and had a hand in two others as the Chiefs went to the break leading 22-9.

The only cause for concern for the Chiefs was the loss of All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick, last year's world player of the year.

Retallick left the field after just 10 minutes with a sore shoulder.

Also Saturday night the ACT Brumbies held on to beat the Rebels 20-15 in an all-Australian Super Rugby derby in Melbourne.

The Rebels threatened to steal victory at the death, taking the ball within metres of the Brumbies tryline after a sustained attack three minutes after the siren had sounded.

But they were unable to breach the watertight defence of the Brumbies, who have given up one try in three matches this year.

On Sunday morning the Bulls beat the Sharks 43-35 in Pretoria before the Stormers edged the Lions 22-19 in Johannesburg.

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