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‘They wanted it a lot’: What went wrong for Chiefs in loss to Reds

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Andy Jackson/Getty Images)

The Queensland Reds shocked the rugby world on Friday night when they defeated the previously unbeaten Chiefs 25-22 at New Plymouth’s Yarrow Stadium.


Playing their first Super Rugby fixture in Taranaki since 2017, the Chiefs got off to a relatively idyllic start when winger Etene Nanai-Seturo crossed for the first try of the night in the sixth minute.

While the Reds levelled the scores at 5-all shortly after, the hosts went into the sheds at half-time up by seven points after another try to Nanai-Seturo.

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Up at the break, most rugby fans would’ve expected the ladder-leading Chiefs to run away with it in the second 40.

But clearly, the Reds didn’t get the memo.

Against the odds, the Reds scored three second half tries – which gave them an imposing lead as the clock continued to tick ever close to the full-time siren.

The Chiefs levelled the scores at 22-all with six minutes to play, but a late Tom Lynagh penalty gave the visitors a three-point advantage at the death.

Famously, that’s how the scores remained. The Reds held on for their first win over the Chiefs in New Zealand since 2013.


Speaking with Joe Wheeler after the match, captain Luke Jacobson was both frustrated and disappointed as he reflected on the Chiefs’ first loss of the season.

“We knew the Reds were going to come out and give it their all,” Jacobson said postgame on Sky Sport.

“We came out strong to start with… they wanted it a lot and no discredit to us but we just took a little bit long to get into our phase shape sometimes, get into what we were good at.

“We sort of got into that at the end there but it was a little bit too little too late.

“Nobody likes losing, do they? It’s frustrating. I think we’ve got a deep care for this team, every one of us so when we do lose it bloody hurts and I think any team should be like that.”


Other than the early try to Nanai-Seturo, nothing seemed to go to script for the ladder-leading Chiefs.

Without some of their All Blacks stars, including co-captains Sam Cane and Brad Weber, the hosts struggled to develop any momentum – or certainly failed to capitalise on the scoreboard.

The Reds played their best game of the season, and were rightfully joyous after the match – erupting into a frenzy as referee Paul Williams blew the full-time whistle.

“I think we probably came out in the second half and didn’t start how we wanted to,” he added.

“Obviously the first half, probably, we weren’t perfect, but if we came out in the second half strong with a good start, we probably could’ve solved a lot of problems but we didn’t.

“They scored first and it was a bit of a snowball effect from there.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom for the Chiefs, far from it in fact.

They’re still first on the Super Rugby Pacific standings, but they have a tough run home.

Up next, the Chiefs are set to host the Hurricanes in Hamilton before heading across the ditch to face the Brumbies and Force.


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Nickers 53 minutes ago
'One of the poorest All Blacks performances I've seen in a long time'

Extreme hyperbole from Biggar. NZ have played far, far worse than that. The 20/21 team was by far the worst of the professional era. Losses to Argentina, shambolic game against Japan and hapless NH tour of 2021. But even that dreadful team were able to put 50 points on Wales and beat them by 38. Much easier to “tear them to pieces” from the commentary box apparently. Ignored by virtually everyone is how good the ABs defence was. That is why England didn’t win, they simply could not score enough points against that defence. The ABs attack was very average, but their defence was world class and that’s what won them the game. Any Wales team that Biggar has ever played for would have found themselves in the same situation and would definitely not have scored tries from those cross kicks. That ABs team beats Biggar’s best Wales team 31 - 13. England’s attack was as good as it was allowed to be by a superior defence. Hats off to Hansen, he has picked up where MacLeod finally got the ABs to last year and not missed a step. England’s attack will be a big worry for Borthwick. They have not established a reliable, repeatable way to break teams down and score points. They were held to some very low scores by average teams in the 6N, and again here didn’t cross 20 points on either occasion. If I was an England fan I would be crying out for a new attack coach. Borthwick would do well to cast his net now, a poor home winter with a faltering attack will start the calls for his job.

12 Go to comments
Thomas 1 hours ago
'Champions get up when they can't': Matt Williams weighs in on Ireland's win over Boks

While both teams have their particular positives, I think neither team should rest on their laurels. South Africa managed to tie a series against an uncomfortable opponent, that has had their numbers for a couple of years, while trial-running a completely new attack system, that still doesn’t work properly. But one aspect of “it doesn’t work yet” is a transition from attack to defense in broken play, as the Boks leaked three tries in two matches this way, and lost the second match as a result. Ireland avoided a series loss in a hostile environment, and in spite of many key player injuries, while managing to significantly improve and tighten their defense in game 2 (which demonstrates the breadth of their squad as well as their ability to adjust and recalibrate). At the same time, their own attack hadn’t amounted to much, either (save from exploiting the gaps in the Boks’ new system, gaps that won’t be there anymore in a few months’ time), and they haven’t found an answer to the Boks scrum, which almost costed them the 2nd match, if it hadn’t been for pretty much unrepeatable Frawley heroics. In the end, there isn’t much that separates those two sides … which is exactly what we knew before the series already. Back to the drawing board for both teams, the work only just begins for two teams with the highest ambition. Start of a cycle alright.

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