Chiefs hold off bumbling Blues in wet Battle of the Bombays

The Chiefs have kept their unbeaten start to the season in tact after keeping the Blues at bay 20-13 in slippery and sometimes sloppy conditions in Hamilton.

In fairness to the hosts, the sloppiness mostly came from the visitors in this edition of the Battle of the Bombays with the Blues making costly errors at crucial times despite dominating territory for much of the match.

Coach Leon MacDonald would've tried to shake off the warning bells from the very first kickoff of the night when his side gave the ball over and allowed the Chiefs to score with just 23 seconds on the clock.

But as the game progressed it became clear that the Blues were going to be their biggest opponents tonight.

Despite a strong evening at the set piece - an area the side said they were focusing on this week - mistakes in general play, and often times inside the Chiefs' 22, saw the Chiefs' defence hold out.

Beauden Barrett had an off night in his battle with Damian McKenzie at No.10, shanking his first conversion attempt after the Blues responded to their early blunder with a Ricky Riccitelli try.

Damian McKenzie evades Beauden Barrett.

That first kick could've been on his mind when the Blues next ventured to the Chiefs' 22 minutes later, as he strolled over the tryline to score but instead of planting the ball looked to get closer to the posts.

That gave Tupou Vaa'i a chance to defend and he did just that, tackling the Blues playmaker and forcing his foot onto the dead ball line.

Making Barrett's tough night worse was McKenzie's performance in their All Blacks duel with the Chiefs playmaker conducting his side well and using a deft kicking game to put pressure on the Blues.

McKenzie was helped by an impressive night from Emoni Narawa who scored a brace for the Chiefs thanks to two impressive finishes against a scrambling Blues defence near the sideline.

But Narawa and the Chiefs' other attacking pieces didn't get much time to show off their skills with the Blues also controlling possession for much of the match - a statistic they appeared to be comfortable with based on assistant coach Roger Randle's comments at halftime where his side was leading 17-10.

Emoni Narawa looks on.

"We want to use that ball... but sometimes playing without the ball could be better tonight," he said.

The Blues proved him right as time and time again they ventured to the Chiefs' 22 in the second half, ignoring chances to go for three points off penalties and instead steal the lead from the defiant hosts.

But the Chiefs didn't buckle and the Blues' frustrations grew.

The last straw came in the dying seconds of the match where the Blues continued to smash into the Chiefs' line off a 5m scrum but a knock on from Caleb Clarke metres out sealed the result.

Brodie Retallick contests a lineout.

"The boys prepared well and we just didn't execute some moments," captain Dalton Papali'i said after the match.

"There were moments in there where we should've executed but I take a bit of the blame there - I should've made better options on those penalties.

"We've just got to take the learnings from this game."

There's one thing the competition learned from the match though - this Chiefs side are truly the ones to beat in 2023.

Chiefs 20 [Emoni Narawa 2 tries; Damian McKenzie 2 con, 2 pen]

Blues 13 [Ricky Riccitelli, Caleb Clarke tries; Beauden Barrett 1 pen]

HT: 17-10


More Stories