Chiefs overcome gutsy Force

Saturday April 22, 2017

The Chiefs have defeated a brave and determined Western Force 16-7 in front of a boisterous Sea-of-Blue at nib Stadium in Perth this evening.

The Waikato-based side had won of eight of the previous 10 encounters, and came to Perth full of confidence following their come-from-behind victory over the Cheetahs last weekend.

The Force meanwhile had their second bye of the season though were nursing injuries to several key players from the high-scoring and entertaining clash with the Kings a fortnight ago.

Damien McKenzie, Liam Messam and Aaron Cruden were among the best for the Chiefs tonight. All three led their side in good stride for the win result.

Best for the Force in defeat were, Isireli Naisarani, Ross Haylett-Petty and Matt Hodgson while Tatafau Polata-Nau provided good service up forward as did Jono Lance off the bench.

The home side picked up where they left off in their last match and went on the attack early. Ian Prior however was unable to score the first points following a penalty infringement by Michael Leitch in the fourth minute.

The Chiefs responded quickly through a Cruden line-break. Moments later Tawera Kerr-Barlow linked with Siegfried Fisi’ihoi which then saw Messam push over near the posts.

With Dane Haylett-Petty pinned for holding the ball in the ruck, McKenzie had the chance to increase the visitors’ advantage, however, like Prior, he too missed a long-range penalty attempt.

The Force injury list had another unfortunate addition in the 21st minute as Dane Haylett-Petty limped off nursing his lower-leg.

Territorial advantage in the first half was in favour of the Chiefs. They tested the home side’s defence with several attacking raids though were unable to break through until the last minute of the half.

With a boisterous crowd of just over 14,000 in attendance, the home side levelled the scores in the 30th minute through inspirational skipper Matt Hodgson, going into the main interval with the scores locked at 7-all.

Cruden slotted a penalty goal in the 43rd minute, while handling errors in the midfield denied the Kiwis further opportunities in the forward half.

Line breaks for Chiefs duo Sam Cane and McKenzie followed though both were held out, while Cruden slotted a couple more penalty goals that stretched the visitors’ lead out to nine, 16-7 with 15 minutes remaining.

The Chiefs looked to have sealed the result, if it wasn’t already, when a 75th minute grubber and try-attempt by Stephen Donald was called back for a knock-on in the lead up. Video replay review confirmed Donald had knocked the ball forward when he dislodged it from Billy Meakes’ grasp.

Next week, both teams are in action again on Saturday, the Chiefs returning home to tackle the Sunwolves, while the Force host the Lions later that evening.

2017 Super Rugby – Round Nine:

Chiefs – 16

Tries: Liam Messam
Conversions: Aaron Cruden 1/1
Penalty Goals: Aaron Cruden 3/3, Damian McKenzie 0/1
Drop Goals: Nil

Western Force – 7

Tries: Matt Hodgson
Conversions: Ian Prior 1/1
Penalty Goals: Ian Prior 0/1
Drop Goals: Nil

Crowd: 14,089 @ nib Stadium, Perth
Referee: Nic Berry (AUS)
Half Time: 7-all.

Western Force: 1 Ben Daley, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 4 Lewis Carmichael, 5 Ross Haylett-Petty, 6 Isireli Naisarani, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 8 Richard Hardwick, 9 Ian Prior, 10 Luke Burton, 11 Luke Morahan, 12 Billy Meakes, 13 Marcel Brache, 14 Curtis Rona, 15 Dane Haylett-Petty. Reserves: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Francios van Wky, 18 Pekahou Cowan, 19 Onehunga Kafausi Havilli, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Mitchell Short, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Alex Newsome.

Chiefs: 1 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, 2 Brayden Mitchell, 3 Atu Moli, 4 Dominic Bird, 5 Brodie Retallick, 6 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane, 8 Michael Leitch, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 10 Aaron Cruden (c), 11 James Lowe, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 13 Sam McNicol, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 15 Damian McKenzie. Reserves: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Sosefo Kautai, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Stephen Donald, 23 Soloman Alaimdo.