Chiefs thwart Blues in Eden Park draw, Force see off Reds
Blues' hopes of reaching the Super Rugby play-offs suffered a blow when they were held to a first ever draw against Chiefs, while Western Force were resounding 40-26 winners at Reds.
Chiefs were in danger of suffering their first loss to Blues for six years, but Dave Rennie's side fought back from 16-8 down in driving rain at Eden Park on Friday to salvage a 16-16 draw.
Damian McKenzie was inspirational for a Chiefs side who now trail Crusaders by nine points in the New Zealand Conference, scoring a superb individual try and laying on another for Jonathan Faauli, but Piers Francis spurned a chance to win it for Blues when he missed a late penalty.
McKenzie and Francis scored a penalty apiece and the Blues fly-half was also off target from the tee before Rieko Ioane finished superbly after Augustine Pulu caused havoc in the Chiefs defence.
Francis added the extras and another penalty, but the lively McKenzie burst through a gap to score a superb first try for Chiefs to reduce the deficit to 13-8 at the end of a first half in which the visitors lost Tim Nanai-Williams to an ankle injury.
Another Francis penalty increased Blues' advantage to eight points, but the mercurial McKenzie's brilliant cross-field kick enabled Faauli to go over after Aaron Cruden slotted a three-pointer in difficult conditions.
Francis was unable to settle it, pushing a penalty wide of the right-hand post seven minutes from time to ensure it was honours even.
Peter Grant scored 18 points with the boot as Western Force moved up to third in the Australian Conference with a win over Reds at Suncorp Stadium.
Stephen Moore chalked up two tries on a night in which he drew level with the Australia captain joined Keven Mealamu as the second most capped player in Super Rugby history, taking his tally of appearances to 175.
He was unable to celebrate a victory, though, as Ross Haylett-Petty, Marcel Brache and Tatafu Polota-Nau went over for Force side, who were also awarded a penalty try.