Chiefs rediscover winning feeling against Lions
May 3, 2014
Gareth Anscombe got the Chiefs off the mark
© Getty Images
The Chiefs regained the winning feeling with an ultimately easy victory over the Lions at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday, the two-time defending champions scoring six tries in a gritty performance that pleased captain Liam Messam.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie made 14 changes to his match-day squad after back-to-back losses against the Crusaders and the Brumbies, and having won only one of their previous six matches, and they struggled to find rhythm early with nine changes in the starting XV. But they hit the front when Gareth Anscombe scored a try midway through the first half, and they were never threatened thereafter.
"It's been tough for us the last couple of weeks, but we've had a good week and produced a good performance," Chiefs captain Liam Messam said. "They're a tough side and I'm really proud of the boys. We were a lot better at holding the ball and building pressure. This is back to where it should be. I'm proud of the way the boys bounced back. We had our backs against the wall and they came out here and performed. It's probably not the flashiest performance but it's a win."
The Chiefs defeated the Lions with a gritty performance in Hamilton (video available only in Australia)
Lions captain Warren Whiteley said his side faced a "tough month or so ... with a young group and 17 [players] on their first tour, and it's really important for us to learn from this".
Whiteley acknowledged the strength of the Chiefs.
"All areas the Chiefs were dominant," he said. "Maybe the scrums we did really well. The lineouts, they stole a couple of balls and put us under pressure. And their counter-attack; the Chiefs over the years have been really good at that, and they scored a lot of their tries off turnover ball tonight."
The Lions led 3-0 after the opening 20 minutes, before the Chiefs received an injection of confidence with their opening try by Anscombe. A try by new hooker Nathan Harris was then disallowed because of an off-the-ball obstruction before the Chiefs closed out the half with tries from Tanerau Latimer and Charlie Ngatai in quick succession. Prop Pauliasi Manu then produced the crucial fourth try immediately after the resumption, when he bullocked his way through the Lions' defence from close range.
The Chiefs went off the boil with the bonus point in the bag, allowing the Lions to strike back immediately with a try to Courtnall Skosan, and another 30 minutes passed before the Chiefs scored again - when Bundee Aki and Tim Nanai-Williams both crossed in the closing minutes.
Tim Nanai-Williams iced the victory © Getty Images
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