Centre Richard Kahui celebrated his first Vodacom Super Rugby start in 10 months with a try, storming defence and attacking thrust to help the Chiefs to a 23-16 victory over the Blues in their Super Rugby clash in Tauranga on Saturday.
Kahui, who had his fourth shoulder reconstruction last year and then needed keyhole surgery to clean up scar tissue before the season started, was key in shutting down an attack-minded Auckland backline.
The 27-year-old made his comeback off the bench last week but was given his first start against the young Blues side and did not seem to be concerned with his shoulders, smashing into tackles and running straight and hard the entire game.
His industry was rewarded with a charge-down try in the second half that put the game out of reach for the Blues in an intense encounter.
The Chiefs dominated territory and possession and made three clean line breaks in the first half only to be cut down by the last defender, or to make an error as they tried to make the final pass.
The home side also crossed for two tries, to fullback Gareth Anscombe and winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma, but both were ruled out by the television official when referee Jonathan Kaplan asked for them to be reviewed.
Anscombe managed to slot three first half penalties, while the Blues' Chris Noakes replied with two as the hosts went into the break with a 9-6 lead.
Replacement prop Ben Tameifuna did manage to smash over and emulate his uncle Sona Taumalolo, who became a cult figure at the Hamilton-based team for his ability to burrow over when attacking close to the line, to give the Chiefs a 16-6 lead early in the second half.
Kahui then charged down a Francis Saili clearing kick, raced through and grabbed the ball to score. Anscombe converted both tries.
Blues winger George Moala crossed for a 78th minute consolation try but it was not enough to stop the Chiefs achieving their fourth successive victory over their northern neighbours.
Here are the post-match interviews, which couldn't be aired due to time restraints.
Chiefs – Tries: Ben Tameifuna, Richard Kahui. Conversions: Gareth Ansombe (2). Penalties: Anscombe (3).
Blues – Try: Frank Halai. Conversion: Baden Kerr. Penalties: Chris Noakes (3).