Pretty much a visit to the last chance saloon for both teams on a Sunday afternoon in Hamilton, the Chiefs (0-3) and the Hurricanes (0-2) both winless, the victor still in with a long shot in Super Rugby Aotearoa, the loser destined to play a spoiling role for the remainder of the games.
The black and golds came off a bye and gave a heart felt welcome back to fullback Jordie Barrett and Peter Umaga-Jenson got a start at centre. The Chiefs looked strong last week against the Crusaders but they were without influential mid-fielder and talisman Anton Lienert-Brown, out with concussion.
The Chiefs went down in flames 25-18 despite a surfeit of possession (56%) and territory (61%). The Hurricanes their slight chances still alive in the competition. Here’re how the Chiefs rated.
1. Aidan Ross – 6.5
Solid scrum and good contribution in the open. Exemplified by a good hit on Laumape in the 36th minute, definitely an improved performance. Off at 56.
2. Bradley Slater – 6
Good tradesman at the line out and scrum.
3. Nepo Laulala – 7
Got his team out of jail in the 23rd with a scrum pen v Ben May on attacking scrum and was a rock for the set piece.
4. Mitchell Brown – 6
Solid line out option and a real bonus with his work rate round the field.
5. Naitoa Ah Kuoi – 5.5
Energy plus curtailed with a nasty injury and off in 34th minute. Locking stocks take another hit.
6. Lachlan Boshier – 6.5
Hasn’t had his mojo at the tackle in the last few weeks, and was outshone at the breakdown by Kirifi and Savea. Has become a good lineout option with 6 takes. Defused a promising Hurricane’s attack with an intercept at 57 minutes. Found himself out wide for the 77th minute try.
7. Sam Cane – 6
Big shots in defence, led valiantly with most Chiefs tackles. Sign that desperation bubbled with a late shoulder clatter into Perenara. Lucky not to be yellow carded, not a good look from the All Black captain.
8. Pita Gus Sowakula – 5.5
Good some good raps from the Sky commentary team as he went off at 74 mins. Certainly had some brave carries (but no real line breaks) but the Chiefs coaching team surely must be concerned at his work on the other side of the ball. Only 2 tackles for the game and an annoying miss on Laumape in lead up to Karifi’s try.
9. Brad Weber – 6.5
Looking more likely this week with some nice snipes but Tahuriorangi’s impressive return will put some pressure on him.
10. Aaron Cruden – 6
Good chips to get behind and turn the rush defence early. Didn’t show the elusiveness that made him a super threat last week, put that down to solid game plan execution from the Wellington team.
11. Etene Nanai-Seturo – 6
One of the best kick off chasers in the game. Needed to get involved more, good to see him come in for some work up the middle that led to penalty goal straight after halftime.
12. Quinn Tupaea – 5.5
Hasn’t shown his tackle busting ability for a couple of weeks and needed to tonight wearing the 12 jersey in place of Anton Lienert-Brown. Missed a tackle on Booth that led to van Wyk’s second 5-pointer. Couldn’t get ball down and desperately held up moments later. Kicking to touch on attack 30 metres out with a one man advantage? Still learning.
13. Tumua Manu – 5
Didn’t make an impression and looked very passive in contact against a physical mid-field. Off at 49.
14. Sean Wainui – 6.5
Quiet first half but played well at centre in the last half hour. Lovely pass to release Boshier for his last stanza try. Reminds me more and more of a big strong Northern Hemisphere outside back like Gareth Thomas or George North.
15. Damian McKenzie – 7
A misread on defence for van Wyk’s first try. Finally came alive and beat some tackles in the second half and gained 79 metres in total but in general well contained by the Hurricanes. Sparked a renaissance with the quick tap penalty try at 64 minutes that red-carded Scrafton.
16. Samsoni Tauke’aho – 6.5
On 56 with a good effort up the middle and an improvement at line out time.
17. Reuben O’Neill – N/A
18. Ross Geldenhuys – 6.5
On at 55. Did his set work well and some lovely soft hands in distribution.
19. Tupou Vaa’i – 5
On at 33mins. His performance highlighted the Chiefs real problems at lock.
20. Dylan Nel – N/A
On at 74
21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi – 7
On at 65 and was at the forefront of the Chief’s comeback. Some strong running into space and looks hungry.
22. Orbyn Leger – N/A
23. Solomon Alaimalo – 6.5
On at 49 and straight into it with a brutal carry up the middle. Continued well with some strong surges on the right wing.
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