An 11-minute blitz at the start of the second half paved the way for the Chiefs to cruise to a resounding 51-14 victory over the Waratahs in Wollongong on Friday.
The first half saw the Chiefs dominate early proceedings before the hosts fought back to such an extent they took a 14-13 advantage into the second 40. First the boot of Aaron Cruden and then the match’s first five-pointer through wing Shaun Stevenson helped the Kiwi franchise into a commanding lead.
The Waratahs admirably fought back as Kurtley Beale latched onto a short ball and burst through the defensive line to get his side into the contest. The Chiefs continued to fall off tackles – they missed 17 of 71 in the first stanza – which allowed the ‘Tahs to continue in the ascendancy. Eighthman Jack Dempsey then dotted down to confirm the pendulum had officially swung in favour of the Australians, who ended the half with nearly 60% in the possession stakes.
Whatever coach Warren Gatland said at the break worked as scrumhalf Brad Weber took advantage of a lack of protection at the breakdown to hit back straight after the break.
The No 9 was then the beneficiary after Cruden put Stevenson clear. The wing produced a stunning no-look behind the back offload that sent Weber on his way.
Chiefs’ left wing Sean Wainui then put his football skills on display and nudged the ball towards the line before diving over to complete his side’s second-half assault on the Waratahs try-line. The score suddenly shifting to 32-14 in favour of the Chiefs.
Now in search of the bonus point and the home side unable to gather their breath, Lachlan Boshier crossed the line for his side’s fifth try with 20 minutes to play. Five tries became six two minutes later when Weber then returned the favour as provider as he snapped up a quick turnover to send Solomon Alaimalo away unhindered.
Replacement Kaleb Trask poured salt in the wounds with by making no mistake with the extras as the Chiefs confirmed their status as second-half kings in the competition; no side has scored more points in the second 40.
All Blacks star Anton Lienert-Brown then bumped his side over the half century mark as he muscled his way over the line in the final minute of the game.
Next week sees the Chiefs return to New Zealand for a home clash against the Hurricanes while the Waratahs must regroup ahead of their derby against the Brumbies.
Waratahs – Tries: Kurtley Beale, Jack Dempsey. Conversions: Will Harrison.
Chiefs –Tries: Shaun Stevenson, Brad Weber (2), Sean Wainui, Lachlan Boshier, Solomon Alaimalo, Anton Lienert-Brown. Conversions: Aaron Cruden (3), Kaleb Trask (3). Penalties: Aaron Cruden (2).
Waratahs – 15 Kurtley Beale (c), 14 James Ramm, 13 Alex Newsome, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Jack Maddocks, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Mitch Short, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Tom Staniforth, 4 Ryan McCauley, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Robbie Abel, 1 Angus Bell.
Subs: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Rory O’Connor, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Pat Tafa, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Michael McDonald, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Siosifa Lisala.
Chiefs – 15 Solomon Alaimalo, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Tumua Manu, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Tyler Ardron, 4 Michael Allardice, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Subs: 16 Donald Maka, 17 Ryan Coxon, 18 Reuben O’Neill, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Lisati Milo-Harris, 22 Kaleb Trask, 23 Alex Nankivell.
Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images