April 21, 2018

Commanding win for the Gallagher Chiefs in Brisbane

After last week's loss to the Hurricanes, the Gallagher Chiefs have got back to winning ways in style with a comfortable 36-12 bonus point victory over the Reds at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

After jumping out to a 24-0 lead at halftime following a dominant first 40 minutes, the Chiefs outscored the home side five tries to two to earn five more competition points which keeps them right in the mix at the top of the New Zealand conference at the halfway point in the competition.

The opening 10 minutes saw the Chiefs enjoy nearly all of the possession and territory but some composed defence from the home side restricted the damage to just a penalty kick from first five Damian McKenzie.

However, as the Chiefs continued to string phases together on attack the gaps began to open up and, after turning down another shot at goal to opt for a lineout, lock Tyler Ardron was able to dive over under the posts for the first try of the evening.

Not long after the restart the Chiefs broke out from inside their own half with McKenzie sprinting clear after an offload from second five Johnny Fa'auli, and his wide pass found Solomon Alaimalo but the winger lost the ball over the line.

From the resulting scrum, the Chiefs were able to win possession back and a few phases later fullback Charlie Ngatai ran a nice line, hitting a gap from a McKenzie pass to stroll over and score.

McKenzie's conversion made it a healthy 17-point lead after just 18 minutes.

As the match headed into the second quarter McKenzie was ruled out for the remainder of the match with a head knock, replaced by his brother Marty, to put a dampener on the Chiefs' great start.

The Chiefs slowly but surely worked their way downfield once more, continuing to control the ball and giving the Reds very little time in possession, and eventually the pressure was too much as Brodie Retallick charged his was over the line after a nice run from halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi.

The onslaught looked set to continue as a line break and offload from Ardron set up what would have been a fourth Chiefs try to Tahuriorangi, but the final pass was forward.

In the last minute of the first half, the home fans finally had something to cheer about as the Reds launched their first meaningful attack of the match, but a stray pass was thrown into touch and the Chiefs took their convincing 24-0 lead into the break.

It took the Chiefs just two minutes to pick up where they left off in the second half, as Alaimalo cut through the defensive line and found hooker Liam Polwart on the left wing who broke the tackle of the cover defence and scored.

The response from the Reds was just what they desperately needed, as a penalty saw them work their way inside the Chiefs 22 and, following a few controlled phases, centre Samu Kerevi scored in the left-hand corner.

Several early substitutions from Reds coach Brad Thorn then added some further energy into what was an improved second half effort, but handling errors let them down and allowed the Chiefs to soak up the pressure reasonably comfortably.

Reds Number 8 Caleb Timu looked to have scored their second try after a strong run, but the TMO adjudged he lost the ball as he looked to force it against the base of the goalpost.

As the match limped towards its conclusion with what was a very scrappy final quarter, out of nowhere Kerevi picked up a loose pass and burst through a half gap to score his second try of the match.

Despite the Chiefs never being under any scoreboard pressure after their early flurry of points, Kerevi's second try saw them outscoring the Chiefs in the second half at that point, which was good reward for a strong fightback.

The Chiefs worked hard in the closing stages as they went in search of a fifth try to secure a bonus point, and a composed lineout drive in the 85th minute eventually ended with replacement hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho dotting down to end the match in style.

Gallagher Chiefs 36 (Tyler Ardron, Charlie Ngatai, Brodie Retallick, Liam Polwart, Samisoni Taukei'aho tries; Damian McKenzie 2 cons, pen, Marty McKenzie 2 cons) Reds 12 (Samu Kerevi 2 tries; Jono Lance con) HT: 24-0.

The Gallagher Chiefs now get a bye week before returning to action against the Jaguares at Rotorua International Stadium on Friday 4 May.