The Chiefs

Chiefs earn bonus point after tough loss.

26 February 2012 Back to Latest News

The Chiefs earned a bonus point after a hard fought loss 23-19 against the Highlanders in front of a large home crowd.

By Anthony Momoemausu

A new era in Chiefs rugby kicked off tonight at Waikato Stadium with a hard fought loss 23-19 to the Highlanders in front of a large home crowd.

First points on the board were from a penalty against the Chiefs, allowing Highlanders first-five Chris Noakes to slot the first points of the evening.

All Blacks hero and new Chiefs signing, Aaron Cruden levelled the scores with a penalty of his own after great lead up with forwards and backs linking well.

A wayward pass by Highlanders halfback Jimmy Cowan was swooped on by a Chiefs forward which resulted in the games first try to Lelia Masaga phases later. Cruden’s conversion gave the Chiefs the lead 10-6 after 15 minutes.

Frantic defence by the Chiefs deep in their own half to keep the Highlanders out was rewarded when referee Jono White gave the home side a penalty that Cruden calmly nailed to restore their lead.

Another penalty to the Chiefs’ playmaker extended their lead minutes from the break making it 16-9.

The score remained the same as White signalling the end of the half soon after.

It was more of the same in the early stages of the second half with more strong defence by both sides and another Cruden three-pointer as the Chiefs pushed ahead 19-9

Injuries continued to hinder the Chiefs after Brendon Leonard (hamstring) and Lelia Masaga (knee) were assisted from the field.

Although the Chiefs resilience showed as they were able to stonewall the Highlanders attack once more with brilliant scrambling defence.

A turnover proved costly for the Chiefs as Highlanders replacement halfback Aaron Smith bustled over after great interplay between players gave them hope of snatching victory.

Minutes later, midfielder Phil Burleigh who was in the Chiefs camp less than three weeks ago scored to give the Highlanders the lead after replacement hooker Jason Rutledge charged down an attempted kick then setting up the former Chief to go over in the corner.

Noakes showed his composure to slot the sideline conversion to give his side a 23-19 advantage with 15 minutes remaining.

The crowd urged their team on as they went in search of the game-winning try but the Highlanders managed to hold on as referee White awarded a penalty to guests which they booted into touch to end the game.

Chiefs Coach Dave Rennie felt afterwards that his side were outmuscled at the breakdown and felt that was where the game was won.

“Ultimately, they (Highlanders) were more physical than us. In their carries, cleanout and in their defence. That was probably a big part of the final result.”

With the injuries Chiefs co-captain Liam Messam believed that there is depth within this squad as they look to bounce back against the Blues next Friday in another local showdown at Waikato Stadium with kickoff at 7.35pm.

Seven players made they Chiefs debuts in tonight’s game with Mahonri Schwalger, Brodie Retallick, Aaron Cruden, Sonny Bill Williams, Robbie Robinson, Asaeli Tikoirotuma and Mike Fitzgerald donning the red, yellow and black for the first time. Click here to view photos

Score Summary
Chiefs:                          19 (Masaga Try, Cruden Con 1/1, Cruden Pen 4/4)
Highlanders:                  23 (A. Smith, Burleigh Tries, Noakes Con 2/2, Pen 3/3)

As it happened.

Minute

Match Detail

Score

1

Noakes Pen

0-3

4

Cruden Pen

3-3

11

Noakes Pen

3-6

13

Masaga Try

8-6

15

Cruden Con

10-6

26

Noakes Pen

10-9

32

Cruden Pen

13-9

36

Cruden Pen

16-9

Halftime

 

16-9

49

Cruden Pen

19-9

60

Smith Try

19-14

61

Noakes Con

19-16

65

Burleigh Try

19-21

66

Noakes Con

19-23

Fulltime

 

19-23

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