Chiefs punish error-riddled Brumbies
SUPER RUGBY TRANS-TASMAN REPORT: The Chiefs have extended New Zealand’s undefeated start to Super Rugby Trans-Tasman to nine matches after they toppled the Brumbies 40-19 at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton on Saturday.
Steered to victory by inspirational flyhalf Damian McKenzie, the hosts ran in six tries, including a brace to No.8 Luke Jacobson, earn themselves a valuable bonus point win.
The result lifts the Chiefs to fourth place on the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, where they sit outside of a place in the final by just one point.
*As it happened: Chiefs v Brumbies
The Brumbies, meanwhile, have dropped to seventh place as they continue to search for their first win in the competition.
The match pitted the respective runners-up of the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby AU competitions against each other.
But the Brumbies finished a clear second best despite pushing New Zealand’s championshp-winning Crusaders all the way in a 31-29 defeat last week.
Only a late try to strike forward Rob Valetini with seconds remaining saved the Brumbies from their heaviest-ever loss to the Chiefs.
As well as Valetini, replacement halfback Issak Fines, who set up two second-half tries with his energy and class after only being injected in the 58th minute, was a shining light for the Brumbies.
Worryingly, though, not only for coach Dan McKellar but also Wallabies mentor Dave Rennie, the Brumbies, Queensland Reds, Western Force, Melbourne Rebels and NSW Waratahs are now a collective none from nine against Kiwi opposition two rounds into the tournament.
Brumbies assistant coach Rod Seib pulled no punches when assessing the Brumbies’ performance.
“It’s been very frustrating. Obviously it’s a contact game, rugby, and we’ve certainly got a lesson from the Chiefs in the contact area,” Seib said.
“Defensively we haven’t fronted up and from an attacking sense we’ve certainly lost the contact.
“We came with a direct plan to have a lot of strong carries but we obviously haven’t done that tonight.”
It was game on early, with the Brumbies quickly cancelling out Tupou Vaa’i’s fourth-minute try for the Chiefs with Len Ikitau’s reply soon after.
But the Chiefs upped the ante and had the Brumbies stretched in every department for the remainder of the first half.
Too fast in open play and too strong at set piece, the Chiefs’ next two tries both came from No.8 Luke Jacobson at the back of the scrum as the hosts went to the break leading 19-5.
The Brumbies were lucky not to be trailing by more, enjoying a reprieve when Chiefs scrumhalf Brad Weber knocked on with the try-line beckoning after the halftime siren sounded.
The Chiefs also had another first-half try denied after replays revealed an Anton Lienert-Brown knock-on in the lead-up.
But the Chiefs ran away with the match in the second half as Lienert-Brown, centre Alex Nankivell and goalkicking flyhalf Damian McKenzie – who finished with a personal 15-point haul – more than offset Brumbies five-pointers for Valetini and reserve playmaker Bayley Kuenzle.
Man of the match: Chiefs duo Damian McKenzie and Anton Lienert-Brown deserve a mention for their impact. However, our nod goes to Chiefs No.8 Luke Jacobson. Aside from scoring a brace of tries, the loose forward was solid in defence and made more than a dozen carries.
Tries: Vaa’i, Jacobson 2, McKenzie, Nankivell, Lienert-Brown
Cons: McKenzie 5
Tries: Ikitau, Kuenzle, Valetini
Cons: Lolesio 2
Yellow card: Darcy Swain (Brumbies, 64 – dangerous high tackle)
Chiefs: 15 Chase Tiatia, 14 Bailyn Sullivan, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Jonah Lowe, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber (captain), 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Josh Lord, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Zane Kapeli, 20 Pita Gus Sowakula, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Rameka Poihipi, 23 Kaleb Trask.
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Solomone Kata, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Ryan Lonergan, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Rory Scott, 6 Henry Stowers 5 Nick Frost, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Lachlan Lonergan, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Tom Hooper, 20 Tom Cusack, 21 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22 Bayley Kuenzle, 23 Mack Hansen.
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Paul Williams & Dan Waenga
TMO: Aaron Paterson