Chiefs adds to Aussie misery
SUPER RUGBY TRANS-TASMAN REPORT: The Chiefs bounced back from an upset loss to the Reds last week by grinding down a battling Melbourne Rebels 36-26 on Sunday.
In a match shifted to Sydney’s Leichhardt Oval due to COVID-19 restrictions in Melbourne, the New Zealanders scored six tries to two with Anton Lienert-Brown, Kaleb Trask and Chase Tiatia all bagging doubles.
Their victory shored up fifth-place on the 10-team ladder with 14 points.
But with just one round to play, their chances of making the June 19 final are all but over.
After round four, the Blues top the table with 19 points, one clear of the Highlanders and the Crusaders after all three enjoyed weekend wins.
The Hurricanes are fourth after being upset 12-10 by the Brumbies.
The Rebels prop up the table alongside the Waratahs, with four defeats from four.
(Continue below …)
“It was a tough one, a rollercoaster,” said Chiefs captain Luke Jacobson.
“We let our foot off the throat a few too many times there. But overall happy with the win.”
The Rebels were always chasing the game after going 0-19 down and skipper Matt To’omua said it was frustrating.
“We just had too slow a start and were always playing catch up,” he said. “There’s a lot of fight and determination in our group but we keep finding ourselves in a position where we’re chasing.”
Despite missing influential fullback Damian McKenzie, who was sent off against the Reds, the Chiefs made the early running with Trask cruising over for a try on 15 minutes after Bryn Gatland’s clever cross-field kick.
It was one-way traffic as Lienert-Brown dotted down for their second after a darting run from a line-out, then grabbed another as the New Zealanders made it look easy with safe hands and quick running.
But in an incredible turnaround, the Melbournians bounced back with three unanswered tries.
Isi Naisarani flopped down from a scrum then Stacy Ili crossed before Naisarani bagged a second to send them to the break all square at 19-19.
Fired up, the Chiefs responded after the restart with tries from Tiatia and another by Trask.
The Rebels again showed their mettle with Andrew Kellaway’s converted try narrowing the gap to 31-26 before Tiatia’s second secured the win.
For the Chiefs
Tries: Trask 2, Lienert-Brown 2, Tiatia 2
Cons: Gatland 3
For the Melbourne Rebels
Tries: Naisarani 2, Ili, Uelese
Cons: Toomua 3
Chiefs: 15 Kaleb Trask, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Bailyn Sullivan, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Xavier Roe, 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Pita Gus Sowakula, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Josh Lord, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Reuben O’Neill.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Oliver Norris, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Mitch Brown, 20 Zane Kapeli, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Alex Nankivell, 23 Chase Tiatia.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 George Worth, 14 Lachie Anderson, 13 Stacy Ili, 12 Matt To’omua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Rob Leota, 3 Cabous Eloff, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Rhys Van Neck, 19 Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Michael Icely, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Andrew Kellaway, 23 Frank Lomani.
Referee: Graham Cooper
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill & Ben O’Keeffe
TMO: Shane McDermott