The Chiefs scored a last-minute try to beat the Waratahs 17-12 in their pre-season friendly in Rotorua on Friday.
In sweltering conditions, the two Super Rugby heavyweights, who have won three of the last four titles between them, looked set for an entertaining 12-12 draw. But, then replacement wing Monty Ioane crashed over right on the hooter to settle the match in favour of the hosts.
Earlier, the Waratahs staved off relentless pressure from the Chiefs before wing Rob Horne scored against the run of play to give the visitors a 5-0 lead. With the conversion going awry, the Chiefs drew level soon after through league convert Glen Fisiiahi.
From the halfway mark, the wing broke away down the right flank, exchanged a neat one-two pass with scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow and finished in the corner. It wasn't long before the same combination cut through the Waratahs defence again, this time Kerr-Barlow on the end of Fisiiahi's final pass to put the Chiefs ahead.
Both sides remained eager to use the width of the field, spreading the ball wide at every opportunity. But it was the Waratahs who were rewarded first when they responded with a try by a league convert of their own, Reece Robinson.
The speedster was put into a gap and ran 50m to score under the posts. Kurtley Beale's successful conversion made sure the teams went into the break deadlocked at 12-12.
The changes were rung in the second stanza by both coaches, but with the Chiefs giving everyone on their 20-man bench a run, it was inevitable that they'd outlast the Waratahs.
Throughout the third quarter the score remained unchanged, as both sides butchered well-worked opportunities to take the lead. But with time and the referee's patience running out, after several scrum resets, Lalakai Foketi took the ball to the line before sending Ioane over for the winning try.
Chiefs – Tries: Glen Fisiiahi, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Monty Ioane. Conversion: Charlie Ngatai.
Waratahs – Tries: Rob Horne, Reece Robinson. Conversion: Kurtley Beale.
Chiefs – 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Glen Fisiiahi, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 James Lowe, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Maama Vaipulu, 7 Sam Cane (c) , 6 Johan Bardoul, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 James Tucker, 3 Siate Tokolahi , 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Mitchell Graham.
Subs: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Siegfried Fisiihoi, 19 Michael Allardice, 20 Tevita Koloamatangi, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Chase Tiatia, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown, 24 Lalakai Foketi, 25 Mitchell Karpik, 26 Taleni Seu, 27 Tom Sanders, 28 Sam Vaka, 29 Latu Vaeno, 30 Atu Moli, 31 Mike Kainga, 32 Pele Cowley, 33 Keepa Mewett, 34 Michael Mayhew, 35 Monty Ioane.
Waratahs – 1 Jeremy Tilse, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 4 Dean Mumm, 5 Will Skelton, 6 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 8 Brad Wilkin, 9 Nick Phipps, 10 Kurtley Beale, 11 Matt Carraro, 12 David Horwitz, 13 Rob Horne, 14 Reece Robinson, 15 Zac Guildford.
Subs: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Senio Toleafoa, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Andrew Kellaway, 24 Jake Gordon, 25 Harry Jones, 28 Hugh Roach, 29 Matt Sandell.
Photo: Matias Delacroix/Getty Images