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Chiefs player ratings vs Reds | Super Rugby Pacific

By Ned Lester
The Reds' rush defence restricted the normally deadly Chiefs attack. (Photo by Andy Jackson/Getty Images)

The second quarter-final of the 2023 playoffs featured two teams with a heap of confidence and everything to play for.

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The Reds were the only side to defeat the Chiefs during the regular season and brought every ounce of energy and intent into this match that saw them victorious in New Plymouth.

The first half was dominated by physicality and kicking duels. Both sides ran hard and laid on some heavy hits drawing a chorus of “oohs” and “aahs” out of the Hamilton crowd.

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The second half saw the Reds’ kicking game switch from territory to tactical and they found great gains through young pivot Tom Lynagh.

Super Rugby’s top seed were made to work for the full 80 minutes and the Reds put in an effort outgoing coach Brad Thorn can be proud of, although ultimately it was a losing effort. Fulltime score: 29-20

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1. Aidan Ross – 7

Ross battled through an early bloodied upper eye to put in a big shift for the Chiefs. He was alert and claimed a couple of loose balls that came off the back of the lineout. Ross was also a leader in tackles made without a miss. The Chiefs will have some stern scrum sessions in the coming week as they lost their platform through penalties against them.

2. Samisoni Taukei’aho – 7.5

Taukei’aho had some rampaging runs to get his team on the front foot, breaking tackles and dragging secondary defenders upfield with him. The lineout wasn’t as complete as we’ve come to expect from Taukei’aho and the Chiefs’ forwards, the Reds managed to steal and disrupted ball which is an area that will need to be addressed before their semi-final. The X-factor was present when it was required.

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3. John Ryan – 5

The Chiefs’ scrum was dominant early but fizzled out by the second quarter of the match and Ryan was penalised more than once, contributing to the Queensland team’s momentum. The Irishman was quiet defensively and replaced eight minutes into the second 40.

4. Brodie Retallick – 9

Retallick offered a secure set of hands from the kickoff. He stole a ball at the ruck within the opening three minutes. Then dropped a rampaging Harry Wilson in a huge tackle as both sides looked to dominate the collision. Retallick was simply in everything throughout the match, defensively, carrying, hitting breakdowns, and getting up in the lineout.

5. Josh Lord – 7

Lord’s physicality was felt throughout the Queensland team, he put in some strong tackles during his 46 minutes in the game. A few carries saw the young lock’s eyes light up and his enormous frame was a force in the lineout.

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6. Samipeni Finau – 8

Finau was courageous with a number of dropout return runs, coming off second best in his first attempt but winning his next shot at it. The young flanker is a tireless worker, looking equally as comfortable defending in tight as he does in the wider channels. He possesses a resilient mindset and a world-class motor, giving his all every time he steps on the field.

7. Sam Cane – 8.5

Cane was relentless around the ruck from the outset. As usual, he placed himself right in the firing line and tackled any and all runners the Reds threw at him. His few carries were to mixed avail, storming forwards on a couple of occasions but also getting sent backwards by the likes of Filipo Daugunu. The captain finished the match with a team-high 23 tackles with a lone miss.

8. Pita Gus Sowakula – 8

A late inclusion in the starting lineup and lent his physicality to the game from the early stages. A rushed offload went forward and gave the Reds a scoring opportunity in the Chiefs’ 22. Sowakula provided some heavy-hitting runs and was dangerous when he got ball in hand down the wing. Claimed some difficult highballs. Scoring the match-winning try is the obvious highlight but Sowakula’s work across the board was immense.

9. Brad Weber – 6.5

There was some fine disruptive work by the Reds’ forwards, making Weber’s life difficult. The All Black’s passing looked rather pedestrian compared to his replacement’s. Weber was courageous in defence and he’s never caught lacking when it comes to extra efforts.

10. Damian McKenzie – 8.5

McKenzie was hit hard every time the Reds’ defence got near him, even copping a couple of late hits to welcome him back to playoff Super Rugby. He was sure to assert himself in the match as a triple threat, finding limited opportunities to run but plenty of varied kicking and passing.

As the match wore on and the game hung in the balance, McKenzie kept his composure and delivered some nice touches and initiated some crucial attacking opportunities.

11. Etene Nanai-Seturo – 7

Nanai-Seturo’s boot was employed early and often, and glimpses of his dangerous running game threatened to open the game up, the space was never available to him though. Suliasi Vunivalu was in fine form on the night and put Nanai-Seturo’s defence to the test, the Chiefs winger dropped off a couple of tackles including one on the try line which resulted in a Reds try.

12. Rameka Poihipi – 7.5

Poihipi was the Chiefs’ backline leader defensively. He had limited opportunities on attack, especially compared to the previous week where he slotted in at No 10. When the Chefs’ backline was in motion, Poihipi moved the ball on without engaging the Reds’ defence. He stepped up in the final 10 minutes though and was heavily involved as the Chiefs worked through the phases to get into scoring position.

13. Anton Lienert-Brown – 7.5

Lienert-Brown’s defence was again superb in the match, wrapping up attacking players and not getting sucked into the dominant collision battle. He was quiet on attack but as expected, made good decisions.

14. Emoni Narawa – 7

Narawa was guilty of a subtle push when chasing his own chip-kick which got the opening try of the game disallowed. There were some shaky touches throughout the opening 40 from the All Black hopeful, including a knock-on in contact which breathed further life into the Reds’ energetic defence.

Narawa’s pace saw him score on the cusp of halftime, finishing the linebreak by Shaun Stevenson. His attacking game was limited to some confrontational carries in the second 40, he made some good meters through the Reds’ defence.

15. Shaun Stevenson – 8.5

Stevenson’s boot ensured the Chiefs got the upper hand in the kicking duel early and let the Reds know they weren’t going to get any easy territory in the match. He also dealt with some awkward high kicks under pressure. When the Chiefs needed some Stevenson magic, the star fullback came through with his goose steps drawing defenders and setting up overlaps.

 

Replacements:

 

16. Bradley Slater – 6

17. Ollie Norris – 7

18. George Dyer – 8

Was penalised early in the scrum but was eager to make amends with some determined carries, contributing to the match-winning try.

19. Naitoa Ah Kuoi – 8.5

20. Luke Jacobson – 9

Made an immediate impact on both sides of the ball.

21. Cortez Ratima – 9

Exceptional passing and decision-making from the moment he stepped onto the field.

22. Josh Ioane – 8

23. Daniel Rona – 7

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2 Comments
J
JD Kiwi 370 days ago

Ross also gave Stevenson a great little pass for our first try.

A
Andrew 371 days ago

Still worries me how pedestrian ruck clearance a d tactical kicking are from Super sides. NH ruck clearance and kicking are so much better in the North.

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