It's a perfect day for rugby at FMG stadium, with temperatures around 22 degrees, low humidity, virtually no wind and no chance of rain. Everything is set up for a wide open and high scoring game of running rugby.
It's always a tight affair between these two sides. In 35 previous meetings, the Chiefs have won 15, the Hurricanes 18 with 2 draws in the mix. The Chiefs have the edge of the record in Hamilton, with 8 wins, 3 losses and 2 draws. The last time the Hurricanes won in Hamilton was way back in 2007.
Today's referee is Jaco Peyper, assisted by Marius van der Westhuizen and Ben O'Keeffe, with Aaron Paterson on TMO duty.
The Hurricanes have made 5 changes to the side that lost 15-24 to the Blues in Wellington last weekend. Having been dominated in the scrum, all the changes have come in the forward pack, with Armstrong, Coles and May coming into the front row, Blackwell at lock and Flanders at blindside flank.
The Chiefs have made just 2 changes to the side that thumped the Waratahs 14-51 in New South Wales last weekend. Tyler Ardron replaces Mitch Brown at lock, while Damian McKenzie will slot in at fullback as he returns from his rest week, replacing Sean Wainui.
HURRICANES STARTING XV: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 TJ Perenara (CC), 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Devan Flanders, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles (CC), 1 Fraser Armstrong. RESERVES: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Vaea Fifita, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Billy Proctor, 23 Wes Goosen
CHIEFS STARTING XV: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Tumua Manu, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (C), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Mitchell Brown, 4 Michael Allardice, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross. RESERVES: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Atu Moli, 18 Reuben O’Neill, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Lisati Milo-Harris, 22 Kaleb Trask, 23 Alex Nankivell
Welcome to our live coverage of the opening game of Super Rugby Round 7. We are in Hamilton for today's clash between the Chiefs and the Hurricanes.
We are underway in Hamilton as Fletcher Smith sends his kick off deep into the Chiefs 22.
The Canes get an early penalty and go straight to the corner. They set up a mail which is brought down illegally so they get another penalty. They have opted for a 5 metre scrum.
The scrum is a solid from the Canes and the ball is spread quickly to Lam out on the wing. Cruden and McKenzie do superbly to tackle him into touch!
The Chiefs clear to halfway from their lineout where the kick chase is good and Barrett is held up in a maul. It's a great scrum from the Canes with Kirifi somehow coming up with the ball. The ball is shifted to Fletcher Smith who dinks one through that trickles into touch at the Chiefs 22.
TRY! HURRICANES! LAM! 0-5. From the lineout, Smith turned the ball back inside to Perenara. He strode into the 22 before linking up with Laumape on his outside. He threw a loose offload which found the turf, but Barrett picked it up brilliantly. He took it to the line before finding Lam on the left edge for a wonderful try.
CONVERSION! HURRICANES! BARRETT! 0-7. Barrett drills it from near the left hand sideline!
McKenzie puts up a towering bomb in midfield and Smith spills it! Knock on called and the Chiefs will have the scrum feed 35 out.
Sowakula works it off the back of the scrum to Weber, who in turn links up with McKenzie. The little man steps past a couple before being hauled down inside the 22. The quick recycle comes left to Sowakula again, but he knocks on.
The Hurricanes work away to Laumape off the scrum, and he makes a charging run into Cruden, who does well to hold on. It comes back to Smith who clear to touch just past the 22.
The Chiefs work quickly off the top of the lineout and build the phases into the Hurricanes 22. Kirifi gets in over the ball and looks for the turnover, but gives away the penalty for going off his feet. McKenzie will line up the shot at goal from right in front.
PENALTY! CHIEFS! MCKENZIE! 3-7. No troubles for McKenzie and he narrows the margin.
Evans wins a lineout in his own half before the Hurricanes quickly work a nice wrap move in midfield out to van Wyk. They work back inside and then Cruden gets in over the ball. Armstrong is pinged for entering the breakdown illegally looking for the cleanout on Cruden. McKenzie will line up another shot.
From 50m out, McKenzie just pushes the kick away to the left. He had plenty on that though.
The Chiefs bring in the deep Barrett dropout near halfway and work away to Manu, who skips past the first before being hauled down. They win the penalty advantage as Flanders goes off his feet, before shifting to Stevenson who almost gets on the outside, but puts a foot in touch. Back for the penalty.
TRY! CHIEFS! BOSHIER! 8-7. It was in fact Lachlan Boshier who got the ball over the line and the Chiefs move into the lead.
The Chiefs go to the lineout this time and set the maul. It's brought off the back and Sowakula gets close. Quickly recycled to Mitchell Brown who gets it on the line. Jaco Peyper has asked TMO to have a look.
CONVERSION! CHIEFS! MCKENZIE! 10-7. The conversion attempt is almost charged down but McKenzie manages to get it away just in time, squeezing this inside the left upright.
The Hurricanes win a penalty on halfway as the Chiefs player is pinged for not releasing. Barrett will have a shot at goal in centre field.
Barrett doesn't catch all of this one, pushing it away to the right of the posts.
The Chiefs go quickly from the 22 drop out and after a couple phases get a scrum from an unplayable ball.
The scrum is steady and Cruden can clear. Barrett sends a bomb back to the Chiefs with Cruden clattered as he fields it. The ball squirts to McKenzie who carries to 40 before he is isolated, giving away a penalty. Barrett kicks to touch this time.
TRY! HURRICANES! SMITH! 10-12. The Canes are going side to side, building the phases. Fletcher Smith gets it at first receiver and spots a mismatch with Aidan Ross unable to make the spot tackle. Smith breaks through and dives over for the try!
CONVERSION! HURRICANES! BARRETT! 10-14. Jordie Barrett has no trouble converting this try.
The clearance from Perenara is high but not very far. It's taken down well by Weber who is held up just outside the Canes 22. He is taken into a maul but the Chiefs get the scrum since the maul came straight from a kick.
A neat move off the back of the scrum allows McKenzie to dink one through but it beats everyone into touch at the Canes 5 metre line.
Barrett finds touch just beyond the 22 under immense pressure.
McKenzie looks to jab a little kick through but probably not the best decision here, and it beats Stevenson into touch anyway, gifting the Canes possession.
Perenara's kick is near the touchline and a good kick chase from Laumape allows him to tackle Stevenson into touch.
Brown is penalised for a high tackle as the Canes were looking to build and gain a few extra metres. Barrett kicks this to the Chiefs 40.
Walker-Leawere drops it cold at the Chiefs 40.
HALF TIME! CHIEFS 10 - 14 HURRICANES. Into the 47th minute, the ball is finally dead, as the a messy scrum is followed up by a messy pass from McKenzie which is knocked on. The Canes importantly manage to hold on to the lead in this tight game. What a second half we have in store!
Kirifi is penalised for an illegal tackle. The Chiefs set a 5 metre scrum in centre field and this looks ominous.
Chiefs get it close and win another penalty. Cruden goes to touch 5 metres out.
After a couple of resets, the Chiefs win a scrum penalty and kick it inside the Canes 22.
We are back underway at FMG Stadium in Hamilton, as Aaron Cruden kicks off, to the Canes 22 in centre field.
Barrett launches a bomb up which is coughed up by Stevenson. It squirts toward Barrett who puts his toe on it. It sits up around the 5 metre line but McKenzie does great work to stay with him. The two of them jump on the ball simultaneously and slide over the try line. Inconclusive evidence means the Canes will get a 5 metre scrum.
Jordie Barrett drifts wide into space but then gets taken down and a bit isolated. What's he thinking there?! He's thrown a shocking offload straight to Stevenson who looks up and sees nothing but space. Somehow, Lam tracks back and makes the tackle near the 22, with Stevenson offloading to McKenzie. It was a tough pass to bring in and is knocked on; The Chiefs missing out on a smash-and-grab try.
A mad moment from Laumape now too, who gets it off the back of the defensive scrum and looks to launch a counter with a cross kick. Stevenson gets up in front of Lam but can't take it cleanly, knocking it forward on the 22.
No messing around this time by the Canes, as Barrett clears although he doesn't find touch. The Chiefs bring it back but an illegal clean out is penalised near halfway. Barrett kicks to touch near the Chiefs 22.
Brown makes the lineout steal and Cruden clears but not much beyond where the initial lineout was.
Unclear what's happened hear as Jaco Peyper calls the play back to a Chiefs penalty on the 22. His touch finder is out at halfway.
Cruden spills the ball near the 22 after some promising build up phases from the Chiefs.
The Chiefs have an opportunity to bring it back after the Canes clearance but Sowakula takes his eye off the pass, which slips straight through his hands and gives him a falcon! Canes have a scrum on halfway.
TRY! CHIEFS! MANU! 15-14. Out of nowhere it's try time for the Chiefs! A lineout steal on halfway allows Cruden to run at the line. He is wrapped up but keeps his feet and eventually offloads to Manu in support. There are a couple of defenders around him but they hang off and he powers his way under the sticks!
CONVERSION! CHIEFS! MCKENZIE! 17-14.
YELLOW CARD! HURRICANES! PERENARA! TMO having a look at some potential foul play from Perenara. This does not look good. There's no malice but contact to the head finds TJ spending 10 on the naughty chair! Perhaps lucky that his night isn't over.
TRY! CHIEFS! STEVENSON! 22-14. It's an instant blow to the Canes, whose defence was at sixes and sevens, allowing shooter Stevenson to slice through the line and slide over!
CONVERSION! CHIEFS! MCKENZIE! 24-14. Another easy kick is successful for McKenzie.
McKenzie's exit is good, finding touch near the 40 metre line. Incredible turn of events in this match over the last 10 minutes, with the Chiefs gaining almost total control now.
Perhaps a chance for a bit of reprieve for the Canes, as Lienert-Brown is penalised for a high tackle in centre field. Barrett will have a shot at goal from 35 out.
PENALTY! HURRICANES! BARRETT! 24-17. Important kick this, as the Canes bring the game back within a conversion try margin.
Wonderful continuity from the Hurricanes, who create space even though they're still a man down. Four or five phases of 10+ metre gains gets them to the 5 metre line. It's halted here though as Lachlan Boshier gets over the ball and makes the steal!
It's a brilliant kick chase by the Hurricanes, and Gareth Evans gets over the ball to make the turnover in front of the posts, 30 metres out!
Jordie Barrett will be disappointed with this, as he pushes his penalty attempt to the right. Not a bad effort from the Canes though, who remain within 7 and are back to their full complement.
The Canes get a penalty about 15 metres from the line, as Weber is penalised for not rolling away. With 15 players on the field, the Canes revert to their standard penalty option of kicking to the corner. They'll set this one 5 metres out.
TRY! HURRICANES! AUMUA! 24-22. The maul is set perfectly and Asafo Aumua explodes off the back to get the meat pie! Chance for Barrett to level matters up.
CONVERSION! HURRICANES! BARRETT! 24-24. It's not an easy kick for Barrett, only about 12 metres in from the touchline, but he puts this right over the black dot! We're all tied up in Hamilton with 8 to play!
Goosen slightly mistimes his tackle on a leaping McKenzie, taking him out just before he landed. Cruden crucially misses touch!
The players are out on their feet, desperately dragging themselves across the field on both attack and defence. A couple of miskicks from either side and McKenzie knocks on a loose pass around 35 from his line.
A great platform to launch an attack for the Hurricanes, as they get clean ball from their scrum in centre field. They get clean ball and Booth gives it to Barrett who carries to the 22. They'll look to roll through the phases here, looking to manufacture a gap. The defence is resolute from the Chiefs, not giving a yard!
Well after the hooter now, and it's 38 phases for the Canes! Still they find themselves outside the 22, moving backwards in fact. Barrett drops into the pocket but they're still too far to go for a drop goal. Discipline from the Chiefs is brilliant, nobody wanting to make the mistake. The Canes get the penalty for a late Sowakula tackle on the 40 metre line. This could be heartbreaking for the Chiefs who have done so well to last through this many phases without giving anything away.
FULL TIME! CHIEFS 24 - 27 HURRICANES! What an incredible end to an incredible game! It was about 6 minutes of possession for the Hurricanes and they are eventually rewarded for their patience with a penalty which Barrett slotted for the win! A resilient performance by the Canes, who looked like they may have been buried during the yellow card period, but a superb comeback was fitting to end this superb match!
PENALTY! HURRICANES! BARRETT! 24-27! The kick is over and THE HURRICANES WIN!