26 May 2017

Chiefs and Blues draw

10:06 pm on 26 May 2017

The Blues battled hard to keep their Super Rugby season alive but were held to a 16-16 draw by the Chiefs in miserable conditions at Eden Park.

The Chiefs and Blues both appear dejected after their 16-all draw at Eden Park 26.5.17

The Chiefs and Blues both appear dejected after their 16-all draw at Eden Park. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Friday's result, the first draw between the two sides, would not have satisfied either team.

The Chiefs needed a win to stay in touch with the competition-leading Crusaders after last week's 31-24 loss in Suva, while the Blues were desperate to end their miserable 0-5 record in New Zealand conference matches.

The Chiefs looked solid to begin with, building early phases despite steady drizzle, but struggled on their own lineout throw and were let down by poor handling as the game progressed.

They were also hit by the early loss of winger Tim Nanai-Williams to an ankle injury, replaced by Shaun Stevenson after just 20 minutes.

Then, 10 minutes later, with the scores at 3-3, the Blues took the lead after Sonny Bill Williams generated some front-foot ball with a bullocking midfield run.

Halfback Augustine Pulu shifted the ball quickly from the resulting ruck, sending winger Rieko Ioane into space for his ninth try of the season.

The Chiefs responded almost immediately, laying siege to the Blues' line for 13 phases.

However, the home team defended stoutly and looked set to take a 13-3 lead into halftime after five-eighth Piers Francis landed another penalty three minutes from the break.

But sloppy work from the Blues at the restart gifted the Chiefs some prime field position, and quick work at the breakdown allowed fullback Damian McKenzie to slice through to cross unopposed.

Aaron Cruden missed the conversion, and the Blues took a 13-8 lead into the break.

With rain continuing to fall steadily, the second half turned into a battle of attrition up front, with both sides adding only a penalty apiece going into the final 15 minutes.

But the Chiefs launched a devastating counter-attack after forcing a turnover inside their own 22, McKenzie's pinpoint cross-field kick finding Johnny Fa'auli haring down the right wing.

Cruden couldn't land the conversion, leaving the scores level at 16-16 with 10 minutes remaining.

The Blues had one final chance with a 72nd-minute penalty, but Francis pushed his kick wide.