The Chiefs scored six tries in their 46-17 bonus-point win against the Reds in New Plymouth on Saturday. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
The Queenslanders were competitive early on, scoring two tries to lead 12-7, but the Chiefs took control of the game late in the first half and dominated the second to secure the five log points.
New Zealand franchises have now won all 16 of their matches against Australian opposition this season.
The struggling Reds came into this clash as massive underdogs, but drew first blood when Stephen Moore went over from a lineout driving maul in the 10th minute. The Chiefs responded with a controversial converted try to Kane Hames, who was ruled by the TMO to have grounded the ball over the line, despite TV replays being inconclusive.
The visitors regained the lead at the end of the first quarter, after turning down a shot at goal in favour of a lineout, from where they sent the ball wide. James Lowe went for the interception, but while the winger got a hand to the ball, he couldn't prevent it from getting to Eto Nabuli, who dived over for a converted try.
Quade Cooper and Damian McKenzie then exchanged penalties, before George Smith was yellow-carded for a high tackle. McKenzie slotted the resultant penalty to edge his side ahead 13-12.
The hosts would score another seven points while up against 14 men, thanks to Charlie Ngatai, who because of a concussion was playing his first Super Rugby match since May last year. The centre broke away from inside his 22 into the Reds half, and then rounded off a nine-phase attack a couple of minutes later.
The Chiefs' third try came just a minute into the second half when Dominic Bird went over from close range, and a strong run from Lowe then resulted in a try by Stephen Donald. The flyhalf would get another in the 52nd minute after a powerful Chiefs scrum earned a tighthead.
Campbell Magnay crossed the line for the Reds after they won a turnover on halfway, but the Chiefs moved three tries ahead again with nine minutes to go, when Lowe broke out of a woeful tackle attempt from Cooper and cut back inside past the last defender to score.
Chiefs – Tries: Kane Hames, Charlie Ngatai, Dominic Bird, Stephen Donald (2), James Lowe. Conversions: Damian McKenzie (5). Penalties: McKenzie (2).
Reds – Tries: Stephen Moore, Eto Nabuli, Campbell Magnay. Conversion: Quade Cooper.
Chiefs – 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (co-c), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane (co-c), 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Kane Hames.
Subs: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Atu Moli, 18 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Sam McNicol, 23 Shaun Stevenson.
Reds – 15 Duncan Paia'aua, 14 Izaia Perese, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Samu Kerevi (c), 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 George Smith, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Lukhan Tui, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Sef Fa'agase.
Subs: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Kirwan Sanday, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Izack Rodda, 20 Leroy Houston, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Chris Kuridrani.
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images