Chiefs Face Tough Quarter Finals Trip To South Africa

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HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 15: James Lowe of the Chiefs makes a break during the round 17 Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Brumbies at Waikato Stadium on July 15, 2017 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

With victory secured on their home soil, Dave Rennie’s men now face a trip to South Africa. That tough fixture became apparent when the Chiefs beat Brumbies by 28-10; only to then have other results not ‘go their way’.

The victory was every bit the performance that Chiefs fans were expecting – outlandish, fast, and downright entertaining. But most importantly, it was a tick in the win column.

The Brumbies played a typically ‘Australian’ brand of rugby, and one that’s seen their sides struggle against quality opposition in recent seasons. Running hard at the defense, the Brumbies were too direct with their approach. Their scrambled offensive line saw too many dodgy passes that lead to numerous dropped balls.

Ending 28-10, the Chiefs beat Brumbies three tries to one, and carry momentum onto their next assignment: Cape Town.

Chiefs 28 – Tries: Damian McKenzie, Solomon Alaimalo, Michael Leitch; Conversions: McKenzie (1); Penalties: McKenzie (3)

ACT Brumbies 10 – Try: Nigel Ah Wong; Con: Wharenui Hawera; Pen: Hawera.

Damian McKenzie had yet another strong performance as he continues to be the central point of the Chiefs backline attack. A try, several ‘back flip’ passes, and an assist saw the 22-year old have another convincing night after his experiences in the All Blacks training group. McKenzie scored 18 of the Chiefs 28 points.

Young speedster Solomon Alaimalo has impressed at every turn this season, and tonight was no exception. The 22-year old scored the Chiefs second try of the night, but it is his support play and ability to read the situation in front of him to run the best lines that really catches the eye.

Along with Alaimalo and McKenzie’s tries; the Chiefs notched another five pointer, thanks to power of loose forward Michael Leitch.

The Question Of ‘Where To Next’ For Chiefs Answered in Wellington

But in all reality, tonight’s result really ‘meant absolutely nothing’. Just where the Chiefs would play next was out of their hands – for the most part. It was much of the same scenario for the Brumbies, the conference leaders home quarter final is already secured.

As it turned out, the Hurricanes did beat the Crusaders [31-22], meaning the Chiefs now have to travel to Cape Town, where they will play the Stormers. Their flight out to the Republic leaves at 2am (NZT) on Sunday morning.

Several Chiefs Legends Farewell Waikato Stadium

With the slim mathematical chance of securing a home semi final at Waikato Stadium aside, today’s match was likely to be the last outing in Hamilton for some Chiefs legends.

 

Aaron Cruden (see image above), James Lowe, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Tom Sanders, and Japan captain Leitch all depart for offshore contracts at the conclusion of the season. Hika Elliot didn’t feature today – but he also departs for greener pastures.

The win over an Australian conference leading ACT Brumbies team was a fitting final hit-out. With all things going the teams way, these men can run onto FMG Waikato Stadium one more time, after the challenge ahead is faced.

It was also likely to be the final dig at home for longtime head coach Dave Rennie.

Chiefs Face Tough Quarter Finals Trip To South Africa

The fact is, since the Chiefs beat Brumbies, the Hurricanes did their fellow New Zealand team no favours. As they beat the Crusaders, it makes for a tougher quarter final schedule.

The Chiefs have no choice but to accept the fact that in order to win the title; they’ll have to do it away from home base. It doesn’t get any tougher than a trip to Newlands, but that is exactly what will be required.

“Main photo credit”

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