The Chiefs cemented their spot at the top of the New Zealand conference with a comprehensive 32-20 win over the Blues in their Vodacom Super Rugby match in Hamilton on Friday.
Ben Taumeifuna scored twice as the defending champions outscored their northern neighbours four tries to two to move into second place overall.
The win also continued to inflict the away-game woe of the Blues, who last won an away game 14 matches ago, and underlined the Chiefs as the main contenders for a third consecutive title.
The Blues lost Peter Saili before the game as he returned home to become a father, but didn’t look like they were under the cosh in the opening exchanges as they took the lead early thanks to some good work again from Ma’a Nonu.
After George Moala busted a tackle, Nonu took the ball forward powerfully before popping it to winger Lolagi Visinia, who bobbled the ball before dotting it down. While the television match official had to confirm the try, it was awarded with Simon Hickey’s conversion sending the visitors into an early 7-0 lead.
It didn’t last long though, as the Blues coughed up the ball on a defensive scrum, with Nonu making the mistake to gift the Chiefs the ball. Gareth Anscombe made some metres before the ball was sent wide where big Ben Taumeifuna found himself on the wing to go over and score.
Tim Nanai-Williams then drove a stake into the hearts of the Blues with an excellent one two with Dwayne Sweeney, making the break and then receiving the ball back to score an excellent try and show just how dangerous the Chiefs backs are.
Anscombe kicked two more penalties to give his side a 20-13 lead at the break.
Taumeifuna crashed over from close range early in the second half, and Nanai-Williams was once again the catalyst as he received a beauty of a ball from Bundee Aki to motor down the sideline, then passed the ball to Tom Marshall to complete the try.
Nanai-Williams was dispatched to the sinbin for slowing down the ball, allowing the Blues to sneak back a try with their superior numbers as Moala went in at the corner.
There was little more joy as the Chiefs held out easily for the win in the end and showed they will be a difficult side to stop when they get closer to the playoffs.
Chiefs - Tries: Ben Tameifuna(2), Tim Nanai-Williams, Tom Marshall . Conversions: Gareth Anscombe (3). Penalty: Gareth Anscombe(2).
Blues - Tries: Lolagi Visinia, George Moala. Conversions: Simon Hickey, Ihaia West. Penalties: Simon Hickey (2)