WELLINGTON - Defending Super Rugby champions the Chiefs rediscovered their winning mojo with a six-try 38-8 victory over the Lions on Saturday in Hamilton.
The win again rearranges the congested New Zealand conference table, with the Chiefs on top on 29 points, and the remaining four teams all within five points.
While the Lions dominated possession and territory early on, they couldn't translate that into points and the Chiefs took a crucial 19-3 lead into the break.
The Lions started strongly, running with conviction and attacking the breakdown with venom. Centre Lionel Mapoe epitomised their opening effort, making a try-saving tackle on Charlie Ngatai at one end before almost setting up a try at the other.
Five-eighth Elton Jantjes opened the scoring with an early penalty, and the Chiefs looked disjointed as they tried to meld a starting line-up which included nine changes from the team which lost 41-23 last week to the Brumbies.
But with line-breaking centre Ngatai back from a calf injury, the Chiefs looked increasingly threatening in the midfield.
The Lions lost momentum and structure as the half wore on, while the Chiefs began to build phases and pressure.
They were rewarded for their patience after 22 minutes, five-eighth Gareth Anscombe running onto Tim Nanai-Williams' pop pass to dot down.