A big win over Moana Pasifika, and not a rolling maul try in sight.
The Chiefs kept to coach Clayton McMillan’s wish and not only bounced back well from their shutout against the Blues last weekend, but also did it pretty.
Lineout drives have been the kryptonite for Moana, and an ugly, boring, part of recent wins against them, but an understrength Chiefs side instead found fun in the wide channels in their 45-12 Super Rugby Pacific win in Hamilton on Saturday evening.
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Sure, they tried it a couple of times, but to the visitors’ credit they also held out stoutly, and instead, the 8126 in attendance at FMG Stadium Waikato were treated to some Easter treats in six-tries-to-two bonus-point victory.
Etene Nanai-Seturo and Alex Nankivell each bagged a double, while stand-in captain Luke Jacobson also crossed, as the Chiefs won at home for the first time since May 22 last year – some 11 games ago.
In what was their sixth game in 23 days in a COVID-19 rejigged schedule, Moana Pasifika showed glimpses of brilliance, a dose of fight, much-needed improvement in the discipline department, but a whole host of costly unforced errors.
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From a shockingly misfiring lineout, to a plethora of kicks sent out on the full, they never gave themselves much of a shot of causing an upset against a Chiefs side with three All Blacks out injured, and with another handful of frontliners rested.
Trailing 24-5 at the break, the visitors struck in the opening minutes of the second stanza when Ereatara Enari left Bradley Slater and Ollie Norris grasping at thin air and sent Solomone Kata away, but the Chiefs weren’t about to be deterred.
Their 51st minute strike was the highlight of the contest, when play swept all around an injured Shaun Stevenson on the ground – who then left the park in bad shape – and Nanai-Seturo surged down the left touch and instead of giving an in-pass, opted to chip kick for Nankivell to gather on the full for his double.
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Salt was rubbed into the wound when the officials found Chris Apoua’s shoulder had connected illegally with Mitch Brown, and referee Ben O’Keeffe waved a yellow card, which could have been very close to red.
The Chiefs banked another try with their one-man advantage, and Bryn Gatland completed a perfect night from the boot, kicking 15 points, while new All Black Josh Lord put in a huge performance alongside returning international Tupou Vaa’i.
The big moment
Alex Nankivell’s stunning second try. Moana Pasifika had just struck first in the second half to narrow the deficit, but the Chiefs’ stunning strike showed they meant business.
Chiefs strike first from the scrum
7/10: It was always expected to be fairly one-way traffic, but the Chiefs ensured it wouldn’t be a rolling maul-fest, and used the ball well.
The big picture
The Chiefs now go to 5-3 and brace for a two-week stay in Australia, starting with their Super Round clash against the Waratahs in Melbourne next Friday. For the 1-7 Moana Pasifika, they will fancy their chances against the Australians, also in action next Friday, against the Force.
Chiefs extend their lead
Chiefs winger Etene Nanai Seturo. The All Blacks sevens flyer scored a double and carved off a game-high 138 metres on 11 carries, beating six defenders – three of those on the way to his first try – and making a stunning five clean breaks – four more than anyone else on the park.
Chiefs 45 (Luke Jacobson try 11min, Etene Nanai-Seturo tries 15min, 57min, Alex Nankivell tries 37min, 51min, Rivez Reihana try 79min; Bryn Gatland 6 con, pen) Moana Pasifika 12 (Anzelo Tuitavuki try 19min, Solomone Kata try 44min; Lincoln McClutchie con). HT: 24-5
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