James Lowe scored a hat-trick as the Chiefs defeated the Waratahs 46-31 in Hamilton on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
Following the disappointment of last weekend’s 16-16 draw with the Blues, the Chiefs produced an excellent performance to secure a bonus-point win that provisionally takes them above the Highlanders and the Hurricanes to second on the New Zealand conference log.
For the Waratahs, it was another game in which a poor start and ill-discipline crippled their chances of winning. To their credit, they did come back well with a couple of tries late in the second half, but by then the damaged had already been done.
The Chiefs started cautiously, but once they opened up a handy lead, the hosts – with Damian McKenzie at the forefront – broke the shackles with a running and offloading game that reduced the Waratahs to bystanders.
Tries by Mitchell Hunt and Lowe, coupled with two penalties by McKenzie, gave the Chiefs an 18-0 lead. Lowe’s first try was particularly brilliant. McKenzie latched on to Stephen Donald’s kick over the top and left Israel Folau for dead with a step off the right foot before he drew the last defender to free up Lowe for the score.
Bernard Foley put the Waratahs on the board with a penalty on the stroke of half-time, which reduced the deficit to 15 points.
But a poor start in the second half again proved costly for the visitors. From a set move at the lineout, Lowe ran on to scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow’s behind-the-back flick to score his second, before Kerr-Barlow scored a try of his own moments later to extend the Chiefs’ advantage to 32-3.
The Waratahs would answer with four late tries by Rob Horne, Will Skelton, Cam Clark and a superb individual effort by prop Sekope Kepu, who ran all of 50m to score.
Kerr-Barlow crossed for his second try in between those scores, before Lowe completed his hat-trick in the final minute, but it wasn't enough to secure a bonus point.
Chiefs – Tries: James Lowe (3), Mitchell Brown, Tawera Kerr-Barlow (2). Conversions: Damian McKenzie (5). Penalties: McKenzie (2).
Waratahs – Tries: Rob Horne, Will Skelton, Cam Clark, Sekope Kepu. Conversions: Bernard Foley (4). Penalty: Foley.
Chiefs – 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Stephen Donald, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 San Cane, 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Kane Hames.
Subs: 16 Liam Polwart, 17 Siegfried Fishi'ihoi, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Tim Nanai-Williams, 23 Solomon Alaimalo.
Waratahs – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Cam Clark, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Tom Robertson.
Subs: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Angus Taavao, 19 David McDuling, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Jack Dempsey, 22 Matt Lucas, 23 Bryce Hegarty.
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images