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Chiefs secure play-off spot

The Chiefs booked their place in the Super Rugby play-offs by beating the Blues for a seventh consecutive time but it was far from comfortable as they hung on for an 11-8 victory in an attritional battle in Auckland.

George Moala's try for the Blues with 11 minutes left set up a nervous ending but the Chiefs did enough to secure the win and keep alive their hopes of claiming a third straight title.

However, for the Blues the result means they can no longer make the play-offs, having needed to win this match by 38 points to have a chance of a top-six finish.

The Blues had dominated the early going, but had nothing to show for it with Aaron Cruden's penalty for the Chiefs the only points of the first half.

Ihaia West's penalty levelled the match early on the second half but moments later Liam Messam intercepted the ball and raced through for a try which put the Chiefs in control.

The opening 20 minutes saw the Chiefs coming under almost constant pressure as the Blues enjoyed 91 per cent territory and 70 per cent possession.

But Steven Luatua was stopped on the line and Jerome Kaino fumbled when within sight as they squandered chances in the pouring rain and against some strong defence from the Chiefs.

The Chiefs had conceded six penalties before winning their first, missed by Cruden, but he soon got another chance and opened the scoring in the 23rd minute.

Blues centre Ma'a Nonu was yellow carded for a shoulder charge five minutes before half-time but it did not cost them as they would level the game before his return.

They had to wait until the second half to do it, however, with West splitting the posts in the 42nd minute.

They might even have taken the lead but another penalty from West in the 46th minute bounced off the posts before Nonu returned.

Within two minutes the Chiefs had gone ahead, doing so in opportunistic fashion as Messam broke up a Blues attack, snaring an interception and racing for the line.

Cruden missed the conversion and was then off-target with a 54th-minute penalty as points remained hard to come by, but their lead was eight when he made a 62nd-minute penalty.

That left the Blues needing two scores but their cause was helped by a yellow card for Mike Fitzgerald in the 66th minute, and they capitalised three minutes later from a scrum as Bryn Hall passed it wide to Moala to score in the corner.

West missed the conversion from a tight angle but they were still within reach until late pressure on the Chiefs was eased when Ben Tameifuna won a penalty in the 78th minute.

Gareth Anscombe missed the kick but they had done enough.

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