July 20, 2018

Gallagher Chiefs go down to Hurricanes in the Capital

The Gallagher Chiefs' 2018 season has ended at the hands of the Hurricanes, going down 32-31 in their quarter final at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

After a gutsy 28-24 win over the Hurricanes in Hamilton last weekend, the Gallagher Chiefs were unable to back that up as the home side eventually wore them down in the second half. The Chiefs showed great spirit, making a late push with two tries in the final few minutes, but it was not enough.

The Hurricanes got off to a flying start when, just 40 seconds into the match, wing Julian Savea intercepted a wide floating pass from first five Damian McKenzie and raced away from 50 metres out to score under the posts.

Just minutes later with the Gallagher Chiefs hard on attack, Savea plucked another intercept but this time he was run down 15 metres short of the line.

The Gallagher Chiefs then settled nicely after the frantic start and, after an initial break from second give Charlie Ngatai, space was created down the left wing with halfback Brad Weber on hand to get the last pass from Shaun Stevenson and finish off.

McKenzie converted the Weber try from under the posts to tie the scores after a hectic opening eight minutes.

Beauden Barrett nudged the Hurricanes back in front soon after with a penalty kick, while at the other end the Chiefs were showing their intent - turning down three potential shots at goal to keep the pressure on the Hurricanes defence.

After a long period inside the Hurricanes 22, the Chiefs eventually opted to take the points with McKenzie slotting a simple penalty from right in front to level the scores in the 22nd minute.

Play then swung to the other end of the field with the Chiefs now asked to defend their line, and they were up to the task initially before halfback TJ Perenara squeezed his way over off the back of a five metre scrum.

Barrett's conversion opened up a seven-point lead as the match headed past the half hour mark.

There were some bright moments for the Chiefs late in the half, but no further points were added as the home side went to the break with a 17-10 lead.

The Hurricanes started the second half strongly, looking to extend their lead and take full control of the match, but the Chiefs dug deep on defence to deny them.

Out of nowhere, a clearing kick from Ngatai bounced into the hands of loose forward Lachlan Boshier who charged ahead inside the Hurricanes 22. Quick ball from the ruck then found its way to Anton Lienert-Brown with the centre dotting down handy to the posts, McKenzie adding the extras to tie the scores.

The deadlock didn't last long however as Barrett slotted a 40 metre penalty to retake the lead in the 55th minute.

As the match moved into the final quarter the Hurricanes slowly began building pressure and eventually found their way over the line with Perenara once again darting off the back of a scrum to score.

Substitutions from both sides injected some fresh legs and, with the Hurricanes up by eight and 17 minutes remaining, an exciting finish was on the cards.

Unfortunately for the Chiefs, they were unable to get their hands on the ball as the Hurricanes controlled possession well, and they were rewarded with a fourth try, scored in the left-hand corner by wing Ben Lam.

Trying to chase the game in the final 10 minutes, now needing to score three times, the Chiefs very nearly got the instant reply they needed after a break from Lienert-Brown got them within metres of the line, but the ball was lost.

With time running out, the Chiefs were rewarded for their efforts with two late consolation tries in the final few minutes. Fullback Solomon Alaimalo made a break with McKenzie finishing off under the posts, which was followed by a try right on fulltime to Lachlan Boshier, leaving the Chiefs just one-point short.

Gallagher Chiefs 31 (Brad Weber, Anton Lienert-Brown, Damian McKenzie, Lachlan Boshier tries; Damian McKenzie 3 cons, pen, Charlie Ngatai con) Hurricanes 32 (TJ Perenara 2, Julian Savea, Ben Lam tries; Beauden Barrett 2 cons, 2 pens, Jordie Barrett con) HT: 10-17.

Gallagher Chiefs go down to Hurricanes in the Capital