May 24, 2019

Match Report | Gallagher Chiefs defend to the final minutes to defeat the Reds.

A phenomenal second half defensive effort has seen the Gallagher Chiefs hang on for a gutsy 19-13 win over the Queensland Reds at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton.

After a free-flowing first half that saw the Chiefs push out to a 13-point lead, the Reds stormed back in the second half, forcing the Chiefs to defend for virtually the entire second 40 minutes, with the Chiefs fifth win of the season not sealed until the final play of the match.

The Reds went on the attack early, going 19 phases from the opening kick off before finally forcing their way over the Chiefs line, but Number 8 Angus Scott-Young was adjudged to have made a double movement and the try was ruled out.

Just two minutes later the Chiefs were in at the other end, looking sharp with their hands on the ball for the first time, but their potential first try was also not given with a knock on called by the TMO as wing Etene Nanai-Seturo went over in the left-hand corner.

The home crowd didn't have to wait much longer for the first points, with a superb kick return from the Chiefs resulting in a try to Pita Gus Sowakula - the big Number 8 showing good speed and strength to finish off near the right hand touchline.

Marty McKenzie made the conversion for a 7-0 lead after a thoroughly entertaining first 10 minutes, before Reds first five Bryce Hegarty landed a penalty from out in front to get his side on the board.

The two teams continued to hammer away at each other, both showing good composure with ball in hand, but neither was able to make significant inroads.

Eventually the Chiefs strung together a few phases inside the Reds 22 and, after a couple of juggles just short of the line, the ball ended up in the hands of prop Atu Moli and he burrowed his way over for a deserved try after an impressive opening quarter from the front rower.

Following the Moli try, the Reds responded well and spent a long period inside the Chiefs half, again looking well organised in possession. A potential try was ruled out again after a check upstairs, and they had to settled for another Hegarty penalty which narrowed the deficit to six points.

The Chiefs enjoyed the better of the closing stages of the first half, and inside the final minute they cracked the Reds defence with centre Tumua Manu throwing a nice wide pass to set up a try for Nanai-Seturo. McKenzie's conversion made it a comfortable 19-6 lead at the break.

The second half started with plenty more action as two sides near the bottom of the points table playing with nothing to lose made for some entertaining rugby.

Substitutions from both benches started at around the 50-minute mark, which ensured the tempo of the match remained high, but the accuracy slipped off with handling errors increasing in the evening dew.

15 minutes into the half, the Reds showed good patience to slowly build an attack which lasted 19 phases and they were rewarded with their first try of the evening. Prop Taniela Tupou was the man to cross the line with Hegarty converting, and the Reds were suddenly right back in the contest with over 20 minutes still to play.

With momentum swinging in their favour, the Reds continued to enjoy the better of territory and possession but they were their own worst enemy, with simple mistakes at crucial times letting them down.

Yet another long attacking movement, this time stretching 21 phases, saw the Reds go desperately close to a try under the posts that would have given them the lead, but some courageous Chiefs defence denied them.

The final 10 minutes saw wave after wave of Reds attack thrown at the Chiefs and it became a matter of who cracked next would decide the result.

Back to back penalties in the final two minutes heaped yet further pressure on the Chiefs defence, with their tackle count rising over 230.

With time up on the clock, the Reds finally worked their way over the line but were held up by the relentless Chiefs forward pack, sealing a hard fought 19-13 win for the home side.

Gallagher Chiefs 19 (Pita Gus Sowakula, Atu Moli, Etene Nanai-Seturo tries; Marty McKenzie 2 cons) Reds 13 (Taniela Tupou try; Bryce Hegarty con, 2 pens) HT: 19-6.

The Gallagher Chiefs now head to Fiji for their next match, against the Crusaders in Suva next Saturday evening (1st June, kick off 7.35pm).

Match Report | Gallagher Chiefs defend to the final minutes to defeat the Reds.