With the home side looking to make amends at the third time of asking against Kiwi opposition in 2017. An extremely tough start to the year has seen them face the Blues, Hurricanes as well as tonight’s opponents. The performance was much improved as well as the score count but the result was the same in the end as they continue to look for a first win of the season. Yet it was the experienced Chiefs Rugby that ultimately saw them across the line and grind out a victory over the Rebels.
Experienced Chiefs Rugby
In the end it was the experience at the disposal of the Chiefs that saw them across the line. The score line 27-14 flattered the away side after a dogged performance from the Rebels. Ultimately, though they claimed a what will be a vital try bonus point as well as the win thanks to the old heads in the side and a man wise beyond is years.
With McKenzie and Cruden pulling the strings in the final 15 minutes, the Chiefs extinguished any hopes that the Rebels may have held. Whilst throughout the match, Brodie Retallick (see above) and Sam Cane; among others in white, who were excellent at the breakdown. Effective to the best of their abilities, testing the Argentine referee to make a decision–which at most times he refused to do. Slowing the Rebels down kept the game firmly in the hands of the Chiefs, despite the home side looking threatening at stages.
Rebels Rue Failure to Capitalise on Yellows
Looking back at this game, one that in all likelihood the Rebels would not have targeted as win, they will regret the fact that they had the chances to kill off the Chiefs. With a yellow in each to Liam Messam and Solomon Alaimalo, the Rebels had 20 minutes against 14 men but only managed to score three points in that time from the boot of Garden-Bachop. A return that is not good enough against a quality side as the Chiefs who have the strength to punish even with a man disadvantage.
As they did in the second half as the Rebels penalty count soared rather than the score board with Alaimalo on the side line.
McKenzie Fly half Prospects
The Chiefs opted for Damian McKenzie at fly half in the starting line up. A particularly intriguing prospect, with the fact that this will be Aaron Cruden’s last year in the Waikato. Unfortunately the chance to see what he can do at Super Rugby level was cut short, with Tony Pulu coming off the field. It meant McKenzie was moved to centre in a rejigged backline half way through the first 40 minutes.
Up until that point, he had looked sharp with ball in hand as is to be expected from a player of his quality. Whether he is the long term answer remains to be seen. With many of qualities restricted at number 10, rather than at his established full back role.
It is a cliché of sport that the great teams are able to grind out victories when they aren’t on top their game. The Chiefs managed to secure the win and try bonus point. Something that will be essential in what will be a close run New Zealand Conference again this year.
They were pushed for 70 minutes by a determined Rebels side who deserved far more from this match. At the least, the losing bonus point, but sport is a cruel mistress and for all the improvement from the Aussie side all that stands is another loss on the ladder. They will regroup and move on to the Waratahs in Round Five.
New LWOR Pool Question:
“Main Photo Credit”