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Chiefs player ratings vs Waratahs | Super Rugby Pacific

By Tom Vinicombe
Jonah Lowe. (Photo by AAP Image/James Ross)

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The Chiefs and Waratahs converged on AAMI Park in Melbourne for the opening game of the Super Rugby Pacific Super Round on Friday night.

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While the Waratahs would have gone into the match confident they could keep the scoreline close, a red card to prop Angus Bell in the opening five minutes followed by a yellow to Jamie Roberts curtailed those thoughts and the Chiefs eventually raced out to a 22-3 lead.

The Waratahs did fight their way back into the game, getting themselves to within three points after 50 minutes of action, but the Chiefs’ regained their composure late in the piece and bagged the final three tries – all to winger Jonah Lowe – to finish the game 51-27.

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What the All Blacks squad could look like halfway through Super Rugby Pacific.
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What the All Blacks squad could look like halfway through Super Rugby Pacific.

Who were the Chiefs’ top performers on the night?

1. Aidan Ross – 7/10
Busy throughout the Chiefs’ first possession, whether carrying or in the breakdown. A huge effort on defence, making 12 tackles – the second-most of any Chief.

2. Samisoni Taukei’aho – 8
Once again accurate at lineout time, hitting 10 out of 10 deliveries. Was the final driver in the Chiefs earning a quality turnover from a kick-and-chase early on. Scored the Chiefs’ first try of the evening from a relatively simple lineout maul. Penalised for not rolling away early in the second half. Was the busiest carrier on the night. Off in 62nd minute.

3. Angus Ta’avao – 6
Scored his side a penalty at the second scrum of the match and the Chiefs scored from the ensuing lineout. Bumped clean by Charlie Gamble for the Waratahs’ second score of the evening. Off in 51st minute.

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4. Josh Lord – 6
The key lineout man for the Chiefs. Made one brilliantly athletic one-handed take in the set-piece but was otherwise fairly quiet. Off in 51st minute.

5. Tupou Vaa’i – 7.5
3/3 lineout. Carried the ball with vigour, particularly so in the second spell. Churned through 11 tackles on defence and 29 metres with the ball in hand. Pinged for clumsily running into Jake Gordon during the Waratahs’ first attacking skirmish, costing the Chiefs three points.

6. Luke Jacobson – 7
1 lineout steal. Did a little bit of everything. Topped the tackle count for the Chiefs, threw three offloads and nabbed one steal at the breakdown. Popped up regularly in the wider channels. Put in two massive hits on Waratahs players immediately before halftime and then started putting real pressure on the Waratahs lineout in the last 20 minutes of the match once prop Harry Johnson-Holmes was throwing the ball in.

 

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7. Sam Cane – 6
A bit of a mixed bag for the Chiefs captain – busy, but also inaccurate at times. A side-entry early on scuppered the Chiefs’ penalty advantage – but maybe he was feeling a bit loopy after being dropped on his head by Angus Bell. Made a great run off the shoulder of Alex Nankivell near the 10-minute mark but couldn’t hold the ball once he went to ground. Also copped a penalty early in the second quarter for interference at the breakdown – although it looked like it was actually a Waratahs hand that knocked the ball out of the ruck. Missed a tackle on Jed Holloway as the lock steamed into a gap – but the tackle wasn’t hit to make. Straightened well and timed his last pass perfectly for Quinn Tupaea’s second try of the evening. Nabbed a turnover early in the fourth quarter.

8. Pita Gus Sowakula – 6.5
Relatively contained this week, ‘only’ making 36 metres with the pill – the most of any forward on the field. Pinged for some lazy breakdown work, entering from about as offside a position as is possible, then was caught out on defence from the Waratahs’ next set of possession which handed the Waratahs’ the space they needed for their first try. Knocked the ball on at the base of the ruck when the Chiefs were hot on attack. Off in 66th minute.

9. Cortez Ratima – 7
Great speed to the breakdown ensured the Chiefs attack was fizzing whenever they were in possession. Passing was generally accurate while he was also strong with the ball in hand. Off in 62nd minute.

10. Bryn Gatland – 7
Attacked the line well and was generally accurate with his kicking (7 out of 9 on posts) and passing. Did throw one pass directly to the lurking Jake Gordon, with the Waratahs halfback scampering away for a crucial try, but also created a couple of the Chiefs’.

11. Quinn Tupaea – 8
Combined well with Jonah Lowe in the outer channels early in the game. Left his wing to make a big number of carries on the offence. Chased a chip kick well and won his team a penalty at the breakdown from the ensuing tackle. Was unlucky to cop a yellow card late in the game for what looked like a perfectly legal steal after a Waratahs breakout.

12. Rameka Poihipi – 7.5
His strongest and most composed game at this level so far. Had a couple of nice carries and touches early in the game, including throwing the last pass for Jonah Lowe’s first try. Gave up the ball too easily in the second half when Gamble got hands on the ball from the kick-off. Hasn’t done his starting chances any harm.

13. Alex Nankivell – 8
Looked incisive with every carry and caused plenty of problems when he got the ball in hand – but it probably didn’t happen enough. Made a great half break with his first carry off the ball and was able to get the offload to captain Cane.  Dropped the ball once with the line begging.

14. Jonah Lowe – 8.5
Scored four tries – only one fewer than Sean Wainui’s effort in the same fixture last year – and chalked up 80 metres with the ball in hand. Didn’t put a foot wrong and wasn’t afraid to come off his wing to help out.

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15. Chase Tiatia – 6
Strong in contact and error-free but outshone by some of his backline teammates. Off in 62nd minute.

Reserves:

16. Bradley Slater
On in 62nd minute. Maintained the lineout accuracy and was handy as a link carrier.

17. Atunaisa Moli – N/A
On in 70th minute.

18. George Dyer – 5
On in 51st minute. Combined with Jacobson in the 72nd minute to force a breakdown penalty. With uncontested scrums, didn’t get the chance to show off his talents in the set-piece.

19. Naitoa Ah Kuoi – 6
On in 51st minute. Was a great support runner and helped maintain quick ball late in the game. Incurred one penalty for offside play near the breakdown.

20. Samipeni Finau – 7
On in 66th minute. Made one excellent carry in the build-up to the Chiefs’ sixth try – and two or three thereafter.

21. Xavier Roe – 7
On in 62nd minute. Tidy – a very competent return from injury. Put in two great kicks, the first when he was under pressure down the sideline and the second to create the final try of the game.

22. Rivez Reihana – 7.5
On in 62nd minute. Showed great acceleration to turn, chase and make a tackle on Dylan Pietsch to shut down a certain try then shut down the next Waratahs attack with a great leg tackle.

23. Inga Finau – N/A
On in 77th minute.

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