July 19, 2020

Gallagher Chiefs unable to hold off Highlanders comeback

The Highlanders have picked up a remarkable come-from-behind 33-31 win over the Gallagher Chiefs at FMG Stadium Waikato this afternoon.

It was all set up to go the way of the Gallagher Chiefs, as they burst out of the blocks quickly in an effort to pick up their first win of Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa.

In just the fourth minute Lachlan Boshier ran a brilliant line to cross the try line rather easily. They ran in two more tries in relative quick succession to Anton Lienert-Brown and Bradley Slater and found themselves ahead 24-0 after 22 minutes.

Highlanders No 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u had another stand out performance and crossed for his side’s first try of the afternoon, in the 30th minute. However, the Chiefs were well in control and took a very handy 24-7 lead into the sheds at halftime.

The Gallagher Chiefs picked up where they left off in the second half, Slater bagging a double, but from there on out, the visitors sparked their comeback.

It all started with Mitch Hunt who took a nice pass from Michael Collins to slice straight through the middle of the Gallagher Chiefs defence to score. Highlanders co-captain Aaron Smith was brilliant all afternoon and scored a well-deserved try in the 56th minute to close the gap to 31-19 after a successful conversion from Hunt.

It was Jona Nareki’s try that was the most impressive of all. He showed his excellent footwork to step around Solomon Alaimalo and fend off Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi to score and put the Highlanders within five points with five minutes left on the clock.

Then despite a couple of clutch turnovers from Lachlan Boshier, the Highlanders were awarded a penalty on the 80th minute and Hunt kicked for the corner. They set a lineout drive and eventually Smith picked the ball off the back and offloaded to Patelesio Tomkinson who ran a flat line into a big hole in the Gallagher Chiefs defence. Hunt only had to convert from right out in front to steal an impressive victory.

It’s the southerners first win since round one against the Gallagher Chiefs, and Warren Gatland’s side remain winless through five matches, although they did pick up two bonus points.

Next week, the Gallagher Chiefs head up State Highway One to take on the Blues at Eden Park on Sunday afternoon.

Scorers: Gallagher Chiefs 31 (Lachlan Boshier, Anton Lienert-Brown, Bradley Slater 2 tries; Damian McKenzie 4 con, 1 pen) Highlanders 33 (Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith, Jona Nareki, Patelesio Tomkinson tries; Hunt 4 con)
HT 24-7 Gallagher Chiefs

Gallagher Chiefs unable to hold off Highlanders comeback