Serious Sam Cane injury mars Chiefs' big win over Force

A serious-looking injury to All Blacks captain Sam Cane has taken away from an impressive 54-21 win for the Chiefs over the Force in Hamilton on Saturday.

The Chiefs looked never in doubt to win the match with Quinn Tupaea scoring a hat-trick and Samisoni Taukei'aho scoring a brace off the bench, but the large victory came after Cane left the field early in the match and didn't return.

The Chiefs dominated the opening 10 minutes of the match with possession and territory and were eventually rewarded by a strong run by Tupaea who found the line to open the scoring in the 12th minute.

The Force looked to respond immediately off the restart and set up camp in the Chiefs' 22 but the Waikato defence was up to the challenge and continued to keep them at bay.

An unfortunate crack in the armour appeared though when captain Cane was injured with what looked like a serious knee issue.

Cane went down in the 16th minute of the contest after he was hit in the side of the leg by a Force player at the breakdown, resulting in his right knee twisting awkwardly before he hit the deck.

He was slow to get up but to his credit eventually rejoined the Chiefs' defensive line and held his position until a penalty was eventually awarded.

The All Blacks skipper then sat down and received medical attention on his knee before eventually walking off the pitch slowly without assistance.

Sam Cane receives medical attention after suffering a knee injury against the Force.

The loss of their skipper didn't dishearten the Chiefs though as they racked up another two tries through a powerful finish from Aidan Ross and a fine display of strength and footwork from Tupaea for his second.

The Force managed to claw one back though after recovering the ball from the restart after Tupaea's try.

That led to an instance shift in momentum as a crafty cross-field kick to Toni Pulu was pulled off perfectly and the former Chiefs winger dove in to score against his old side.

The Force looked to use the change in momentum to claim one last score in the first half, setting up camp once again in the Chiefs' 22 for the final five minutes before the break.

But the Chiefs' defence held them out and forced the error after the hooter, allowing them to head to the sheds with a 21-7 lead.

The Chiefs came out firing in the second half after earning an early penalty to gain some territory which resulted in Tupaea claiming his hat-trick in the 46th minute with another superb run.

From there, the flood gates appeared to open with Kaleb Trask getting in on the action after finishing some free-flowing rugby sparked by a linebreak by Bryn Gatland.

In a nice moment midway through the second half, Force substitute and former long-time Chief Richard Kahui came on to the field for one last game at Waikato Stadium. The appearance came after the former All Black hinted early this week this season will likely be his last.

The introduction didn't help, with the Chiefs soon in again this time through Tupou Vaa'i and a double for substitute Taukei'aho.

The Force managed to get some late consolation tries through Jeremy Thrush and Michael McDonald to reduce the margin but the game's result was not in doubt. The win cemented the Chiefs in the top eight of the competition.

Quinn Tupaea trots in to score against the Force.

Coach Clayton McMillan will be happy with his side's performance but will want to address some concerning areas the Force exposed in the contest, particularly around the lineout and restarts.

One area that shone though was the scrum with the Force pack buckling on multiple occasions to hand the Chiefs penalties for territory.

The Chiefs will now regroup and recover before finishing their regular season next week against the Fijian Drua in Australia.

Whether their captain will join them remains to be seen.

Chiefs 54 [Quinn Tupaea 3, Samisoni Taukei'aho 2, Aidan Ross, Kaleb Trask, Tupou Vaa'i tries; Bryn Gatland 6 con, Kaleb Trask 1 con]

Force 21 [Toni Pulu, Jeremy Thrush, Michael McDonald tries; Jake McIntyre 2 con, Ian Prior 1 con]

Halftime: 21-7


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