HAMILTON, New Zealand (AP) — Center Alex Nankivell and winger Etene Nanai-Seturo scored two tries each, combining for one brilliant touchdown as the Hamilton-based Chiefs beat Moana Pasifika 45-12 Saturday in Super Rugby Pacific.
Nankivell’s tries came in the 37th minute of the first half and 10th minute of the second, astride a try for Moana Pasifika which might have been a start of their resurgence. His second try snuffed out that comeback, allowing the Chiefs to expand their lead to 31-12 and they eased to victory with the help of Nanai-Seturo’s second try.
Captain Luke Jacobson scored the Chiefs’ first try and Rivez Reihana their last as they won by six tries to two. Bryn Gatland kept a flawless kicking record with seven goals from seven attempts.
Moana Pasifika has played six games in three weeks to make up for matches postponed early in the season due to COVID-19. That created a massive test of their depth in their debut Super Rugby season and they came through well, picking up their first-ever win at the expense of the Wellington-based Hurricanes.
“We knew Moana were going to come out firing. They’re a very physical team,” Jacobson said. “They’ve won a lot of respect in this tournament. They’ve had a hard run, they came out week in and week out — or less than week in and week out — and they put a good performance out.”
Jacobson scored the opening try in the 11th minute from a lineout error by Moana Pasifika. He peeled from the subsequent scrum and dived over.
Nanai-Seturo’s first came in the 14th minute, again from a lineout, when Gatland was left in space and was able to work the ball to his flank.
Anzelo Tuitavuki drove through Shaun Stevenson’s tackle for Moana Pasifika’s first try in the 19th minute but Nankivell’s first try allowed the Chiefs to go to halftime with a 24-5 lead.
A try by Solomone Kata in the fourth minute of the second half brought Moana Pasifika back into the match at 24-12 but Nankivell’s second re-established the Chiefs’ advantage.
Later, a 75th-minute try by replacement Aidan Morgan was just enough to give the Hurricanes a 22-21 win over the Highlanders in Dunedin.
The Hurricanes were hanging on to that one-point margin as the full-time siren sounded with the Highlanders hot on attack. Winger Scott Gregory took the ball to within a meter of the goal line and in the subsequent surge replacement prop Saula Ma'u was held up just short of the line.
The Highlanders made a second attempt to drive it over the line but the referee ruled the ball had not been grounded and the match ended.
The Hurricanes had led for most of the match and 14-6 at halftime after Bailyn Sullivan and Salesi Rayasi scored first-half tries.
The Highlanders rallied in the second half, cutting the Hurricanes' advantage to 17-14 in the 58th minute. They hit the lead for the first time in the 66th minute with a try to Marty Banks, whose conversion put them ahead 21-17.
Morgan's try reclaimed the lead for the Hurricanes and they just held on for their fourth win in eight matches.
In the final match of the ninth round, the New South Wales Waratahs outclassed the Western Force 41-24 in Perth, Western Australia. The Waratahs scored three tries in eight minutes to take early control of the match.
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