The Chiefs claimed a commanding 36-12 bonus-point victory against the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
As has been the case for the Reds against all New Zealand opposition for the past two years, they were simply no match for the Chiefs. Then again, if you concede 80% possession and four linebreaks in the opening 15 minutes alone against a quality side like the Chiefs, you’re asking for a beat-down.
The result extends the Queenslanders’ losing streak against Kiwi teams, dating back to April 2016, to nine matches and leaves them 11 points off the top of the Australian conference.
The Chiefs are now back up to third in the highly competitive New Zealand conference, two log points ahead of the Highlanders, who beat the Blues 34-16 on Friday.
Under immense pressure, the Reds conceded a technical penalty at a lineout in the seventh minute and Damian McKenzie split the uprights to put the Chiefs 3-0 up. From that point, the hosts remained on the back foot as the match morphed into a one-sided contest.
With McKenzie bamboozling the Reds’ defence and pulling the strings from No 10, the Chiefs ran in two tries, scored by Canadian international Tyler Ardron and co-captain Charlie Ngatai. McKenzie was especially influential in the second try, as he threw a dummy pass to a decoy runner, but instead held up the ball beautifully before picking out Ngatai in space.
Unfortunately, McKenzie was forced off the field to undergo a concussion test, which he failed. But while the Reds would have been relieved to see the back of McKenzie, his absence made no difference as the Chiefs continued to tighten their grip on the game. And they were in control at the break after lock Brodie Retallick powered through two tacklers to score his team’s third try for a 24-0 lead.
The Reds’ inability to pick out the Chiefs’ strike-runners continued in the second half and it led to a try for hooker Liam Polwart, extending the visitors’ advantage to 31 points. But the Reds pulled back the possession and territory statistics thereafter, as errors crept into the Chiefs’ game.
The Reds responded with Samu Kerevi barging over from close range. The next 20 minutes were error-filled, with both sides unable to add to their tally. The Reds then blew a try when No 8 Caleb Timu, in his attempt to place the ball at the bottom of the posts, lost it forward.
But with six minutes remaining, Kerevi got the ball just outside the 22 and beat five defenders to score his second try to briefly take the bonus point away from the Chiefs.
The visitors, however, were not to be denied maximum log points. They kept the ball alive and five minutes into stoppage time, replacement hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho scored the all-important try from the back of a lineout drive.
Despite Kerevi’s best efforts, this Reds defeat means Australian teams are now on a 35-game losing streak against New Zealand sides.
Reds – Tries: Samu Kerevi (2). Conversion: Jono Lance.
Chiefs – Tries: Tyler Ardron, Charlie Ngatai, Brodie Retallick, Liam Polwart, Samisoni Taukei’aho. Conversions: Damian McKenzie (2), Marty McKenzie (2). Penalty: Damian McKenzie.
Reds – 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Filipo Daugunu, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Izaia Perese, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ben Lucas, 8 Caleb Timu, 7 Liam Wright, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper (c).
Subs: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 JP Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Harry Hockings, 20 George Smith, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Jordan Petaia.
Chiefs – 15 Charlie Ngatai (co-c), 14 Sean Wainui, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Johnny Fa’auli, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (co-c), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Tyler Ardron, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Liam Polwart, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Subs: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Luke Jacobson, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Alex Nankivell.
Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images