Match report: Chiefs bounce back against Waratahs
February 23, 2008
The Chiefs held off a second half comeback from the Waratahs to notch a narrow 20-17 victory in their Super 14 clash in Hamilton.
Stephen Donald landed a late penalty to hand the Chiefs a desperate 20-17 Super 14 rugby defeat of the New South Wales Waratahs in Hamilton tonight.
The Chiefs bounced back from an 18-point humbling at the hands of the Blues last week to win an error-riddled game, not helped by slippery surface at Waikato Stadium.
It was a major comedown for the Waratahs, who hammered the Hurricanes last weekend but paid for a myriad of mistakes and inability to take their scoring chances until late.
Up 17-0 early in the second half, the Chiefs were coasting before they conceded three tries in half an hour.
Waratahs first five-eighth Kurtley Beale blew a chance to give his side the lead when he missed the conversion of winger Lote Tuqiri's try 10m in from the right-hand touch with four minutes remaining.
Instead it was opposite number Donald who responded best to the pressure when given a penalty shot 2min from the from a similar position -- but into the wind -- after the Waratahs were deemed offside at a ruck.
Donald's effort was commendable as he had endured a difficult night with boot and he had suffered a heavy head knock moments earlier.
In an even match it was possibly the gamebreaking ability of the hosts that proved the difference, with Liam Messam, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Richard Kahui all scoring tries that involved beating tacklers with power or skill.
While they boasted the better scrum, the Chiefs had trouble making progress against a tight Waratahs defensive screen.
The visitors were well led by No 8 Wycliff Palu but too often were let down by basic skill errors, particularly in the backs.
The Chiefs led 12-0 at halftime after playing with the benefit of a strong wind that died significantly in the second spell.
C onceding a welter of penalties and free kicks didn't help the Waratahs' cause and they conceded the first try to Messam when the flanker powered through first five-eighth Kurtley Beale after good period on attack.
All Blacks winger Sivivatu brought the game to life in the 28th minute with a brilliant individual try from a kick return.
Playing his 50th Super rugby match, Sivivatu languidly cruised untouched from inside his own half, shaping to pass for much of the way but never doing so.
There was doubt over the grounding but referee Marius Jonker never asked the third match official to check its legality.
Centre Richard Kahui extended the lead early in the second spell but injured his ankle in the process. The extent of the damage was unclear as the talented No 13 limped off.
A makeshift Chiefs backline was opened up soon afterwards as centre Ben Jacobs sliced through, sparking a period of Waratahs dominance.
Sam Harris had their second after Sivivatu threw a lazy intercept pass and Tuqiri's try after a quickly-taken free kick looked like ending the game in a stalemate.
Chiefs captain Jono Gibbes was pleased his perenially slow-starting side had registered their first competition points.
Chiefs 20 (Liam Messam, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Richard Kahui tries; Stephen Donald pen, con) NSW Waratahs 17 (Ben Jacobs, Sam Harris, Lote Tuqiri tries; Kurtley Beale con). Halftime: Chiefs 12-0.
Chiefs: Mils Muliaina, Viliame Waqaseduadua, Richard Kahui, Callum Bruce, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Stephen Donald, Brendon Leonard, Sione Lauaki, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Kevin O'Neill, Jono Gibbes (captain), Ben Castle, Tom Willis, Simms Davison. Reserves: Aled de Malmanche, Ben May, Toby Lynn, Faifili Levave, Tom Harding, David Bason, Lelia Masaga.
Waratahs: Lachie Turner, Timana Tahu, Ben Jacobs, Tom Carter, Lote Tuqiri, Kurtley Beale, Brett Sheehan, Wycliff Palu, Phil Waugh (captain), Rocky Elsom, Dan Vickerman, Dean Mumm, Al Baxter, Adam Freier, Matt Dunning. Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Will Caldwell, Beau Robinson, Luke Burgess, Sam Harris, Alfi Mafi.
"It was a pretty vital game for us," he told Sky Sports.
"In a funny kind of way we actually played worse than last week but we managed to take a few opportunities.
"Big ups to Stephen Donald taking that last penalty kick, that was big-time pressure and I didn't even have to ask him, he just took it."
Waratahs skipper Phil Waugh said the result was one that had slipped through their grasp.
"We put ourselves in position to win in the second half with the wind behind us but we just didn't put the finishing touches," he said.
"We kicked the ball out on the full or dead which put us under pressure and they did well to hang on in the end."
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