The Chiefs came back from a 16-point deficit to snatch a 31-31 draw against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
It was an incredible finish to a thrilling New Zealand derby, which the Highlanders dominated for long periods, but just could not keep the Chiefs from coming back.
While the Highlanders went into the break only two points ahead, they quickly opened up a 28-12 lead in the second half through tries from Matt Faddes and James Lenjes, both of which Aaron Smith set up excellently.
Brad Weber showing his pace again! Quality from @ChiefsRugby.
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) May 4, 2019
However, as they did throughout the match, the Chiefs continued to fight and brought themselves back into the match when a clever lineout move saw Siate Tokolahi score. Tyler Ardron then finished off a good attacking move to suddenly make it a four-point game in the final 10 minutes.
Ioane slotted a penalty to leave the Chiefs chasing a draw in the closing stages of the match. Incredibly the visitors won possession of the proceeding kick-off and worked their way toward the tryline, with Angus Ta’avao scoring the decisive try under the posts.
There will be a big concern over the fitness of Ben Smith as he left the field in the second half with what appeared to be a knee injury. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was seen consulting the fullback after the match.
— Superbru (@Superbru) May 4, 2019
Highlanders – Tries: Josh Ioane, Ben Smith, Matt Faddes, James Lenjes. Conversions: Ioane (4)
Chiefs – Tries: Brad Weber, Luke Jacobson, Siate Tokolahi, Tyler Ardron, Angus Ta’avao. Conversions: Marty McKenzie (3)
Highlanders – 15 Ben Smith (cc), 14 Matt Faddes, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Luke Whitelock (cc), 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Subs: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh McKay, 23 Sio Tomkinson.
Chiefs – 15 Solomon Alaimalo, 14 Sean Wainui, 13 Tumua Manu, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Marty McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Tyler Ardron, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Mitchell Brown, 4 Michael Allardice (c), 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Atu Moli.
Subs: 16 Liam Polwart, 17 Ryan Coxon, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Jesse Parete, 20 Taleni Seu, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Shaun Stevenson, 23 Bailyn Sullivan.
Photo: Dianne Manson/Getty Images