Chiefs accelerate to victory

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28 Mar 2015
Chiefs accelerate to victory

The Chiefs overcame some early issues to overrun the Cheetahs and secure a four-try bonus point at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.

Flirting with disaster in the first half as they leaked penalties, the Chiefs improving scrum and accurate boot of Aaron Cruden guided them to an entertaining win over their South African opponents.

After their troubles in Durban this was a timely response from Dave Rennie's side as they secured a late try bonus point, even if it wasn't an easy ride.

The whole Chiefs back row crossed the whitewash with replacements Augustine Pulu and Andrew Horrell combining to score the fourth try.

The level of indiscipline from the Chiefs in the first half was absurd, coughing up 12 penalties and losing two forwards to the bin in Mike Fitzgerald and Ben Tameifuna.

Full credit to the Cheetahs in that regard for drawing the penalties out of the home side thanks to the effectiveness of their rolling maul and scrum.

Naka Drotske and Os du Randt however will have been kicking themselves at the fact that their side couldn't take a lead into half-time despite such a long period of time with a one or two man advantage.

Joe Pietersen did have a chance to make it 16-14 right before the break, but his penalty missed the target.

The Chiefs might have been under the cosh for long periods in the first half but they broke open the scoring with Michael Leitch's try, the Japan captain benefiting from a fine offload by Sonny Bill Williams to force his way over the line.

Pietersen responded with a couple of penalties to keep the Cheetahs well in touch before the Chiefs really scored a try out of nothing.

Their skipper, Liam Messam, burst through the middle of a maul and the former Sevens player must have thought he was in Hong Kong as he cantered away from 30 metres out to score.

It proved to be the Chiefs last real attacking moment of the half as the Cheetahs began their assault on the home side's try line and the penalties racked up.

Messam repeatedly had conversations with Craig Joubert as the calm referee began to grow impatient with the Chiefs mounting indiscipline.

Eventually the Cheetahs did get their try thanks to Boom Prinsloo and their pack, although it looked suspect with the ball being transferred forwards within the rolling maul.

Fitzgerald and Tameifuna then both went to the bin but the Chiefs clung on to avoid leaking any further points, with Williams giving an impressive shift at blindside flanker in the scrum in the absence of his forwards.

Cruden settled things down after half-time with two penalties to give the Chiefs a helpful 20-13 lead but the Chiefs were then very much ruffled by Heinrich Brüssow.

The Springbok flanker was on hand to score a try right under the posts after Damian McKenzie's ill-fated grubber in his own 22 backfired spectacularly when it ricocheted, with Brüssow benefiting.

A third Cruden penalty restored the home side's lead but they could have had more had Seta Tamanivalu backed himself with a chance in the corner.

The home scrum though was in the ascendancy and helping them to dominate possession and territory, with the Cheetahs under pressure losing Brüssow by trying to win the ball back before it had left the ruck.

Down to seven in the scrum the Cheetahs couldn't stop Sam Cane from crossing the whitewash to make it a try apiece for the Chiefs back row, Leitch providing a fine assist, as Cruden converted for a ten-point advantage going into the final ten minutes.

An injection of speed with the arrival of Pulu helped set up Horrell for the fourth try, with Cane involved in the build-up, as the home side wrapped up the win in style, with Brüssow returning from his time in the bin for a late consolation try.