Damian McKenzie struck a long-range penalty in the sixth minute of extra time as the Chiefs beat the Highlanders 26-23 via the golden-point rule in Dunedin on Saturday.
Golden drama: In a dramatic ending, the game moved into extra time with the golden-point rule after Damian McKenzie missed a 82nd-minute penalty that would have won it for the Chiefs.
The Highlanders had all the momentum as they successfully pinned the Chiefs in their own half, but the visitors stood strong defensively and kept their discipline in the danger zone, forcing an unsuccessful drop-goal attempt from the Highlanders. That allowed the Chiefs to get out of their own half and when they won a turnover at the breakdown in midfield, McKenzie stood up and nailed the match-defining kick, much to the jubilation of his teammates.
Ioane kept the party going: The introduction of Josh Ioane, who’ve been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately, sparked the Highlanders to life. Trailing by 10 with 10 minutes to go, the replacement attacked a gaping hole in the Chiefs defence to score a self-converted try before also slotting a penalty to level the scores, thus setting up a grandstand finish.
Gameflow: In a lively start to the game, both sides showed some real enterprise on attack. But it would be the Chiefs who drew first blood when Etene Nanai-Seturo pulled off an acrobatic finish in the corner. The Highlanders responded before the 10-minute mark, but failed to draw level as the conversion went wide of the target. The action faded throughout remainder of the half as neither side managed to put together a string of phases before a mistake occurred. But, on the stroke of half time, Damian McKenzie slotted a penalty to put the Chiefs 10-5 up at the break.
The Highlanders squared things up with an unconverted try after the break and it remained level after McKenzie and Hunt traded penalties soon after. However, the Chiefs seized control on the scoreboard with a 10-point haul, including a well-constructed converted try by Angus Ta’avao.
But in a late surge in the last 10 minutes Josh Ioane contributed 10 points to make the score 23-23. There were two chances for McKenzie to win the game for the Chiefs, but he skewed both a drop-goal attempt and an 82nd-minute penalty to activate golden-point extra time.
Fast fact: With this result, the Chiefs ended a five-match winless streak against the Highlanders.