The Blues and Chiefs played out a tense, nail-biting draw in the rain at Eden Park tonight, eventually tying the match 16-16.
Both sides traded penalties early. Damian McKenzie got his side’s first points, before Piers Francis returned in kind, a few minutes later. They were the only points in the first 30 minutes of the match as a stack of errors stymied both team’s attacking chances.
The scrums were just as messy. Referee Nick Briant wasn’t impressed, forcing constant resets and dishing out penalties when they collapsed.
Finally, prolific try-scorer Rieko Ioane found his way over the line, catching a deft pass from Augustine Pulu right out in front before bursting through a gap with sublime speed.
The Chiefs clawed back the deficit somewhat with a try of their own, making it 13-8 at half time. It was probably a fair reflection of what had been a tense, tightly contested opening 40 minutes.
The game didn’t get any freer in the second half, as both sides played to the wet conditions, kicking for territory and kicking penalties when they were on offer. And so it went, until finally, the Chiefs scored a stunner in the corner, tying the scores with just over ten minutes to go.
Francis missed a crucial penalty from 25m out. And as the rain continued to fall, and the time continued to tick away, the crowd got louder, and the match got tenser. Both sides fumbled at inopportune times, compounding the pressure. In the end, though, nothing could break the deadlock.
It’s the first time these two sides have drawn, and the Blues’ last home game of the regular Investec Super Rugby season. The team will now travel to Samoa, where they’ll face the Reds in a historic first for Apia Park, before returning to Auckland to face the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park on 7 June. Get tickets here.
Blues 16 (Tries – Rieko Ioane; Conversions – Piers Francis; Penalties – Piers Francis 3)
Chiefs 16 (Tries – Damian McKenzie, Johnny Faauli; Penalties – Damian McKenzie, Aaron Cruden)