Chiefs cement top spot
Tikoirotuma bags four in high-scoring thriller
Last Updated: 02/06/12 2:01pm
Winger Alaesi Tikoirotuma played a starring role as the Waikato Chiefs beat the Auckland Blues 41-34 to consolidate top spot in the Super Rugby standings.
Tikoirotuma ran in four tries - equalling the record for an individual in a Super Rugby match - including the winner, to ensure the New Zealanders break for the June Test matches in pole position.
Tikoirotuma's first try, in the 15th minute, gave the Chiefs a 10-7 advantage and they held that lead to the end, though it was constantly under siege from the determined Blues who were galvanized by the return of backline stars Rene Ranger and Rudi Wulf.
The Chiefs opened up a 20-10 lead after 31 minutes when All Blacks midfield star Sonny Bill Williams crashed through a number of would-be tacklers to score his third try of the season.
But Auckland showed the spirit that prevailed throughout the match when they struck back with a try, conversion and penalty to winger Lachie Munro to level the scores at 20-20 by half-time.
The Chiefs edged ahead again courtesy of Tikoirorutma's well-taken second try and on 55 minutes the game looked up for the Blues when the Fijian-born wing completed his hat-trick to put the visitors 34-20 to the good.
But, inspired by the sin-binning of Michael Fitzgerald, the Blues hit back once more and stunning individual scores from Wulf and Ranger tied the scores at 34-34 with 14 minutes remaining.
With both sides threatening the try-line, it took a moment of attacking brilliance from the league leaders to seal victory.
All Blacks fly-half Aaron Cruden put in a perfectly weighted kick for Tikoirotuma and the wing showed electrifying pace to win the race to the ball and touch down.