Chiefs give Lions a reality check
Sat, 03 May 2014 09:24
Six tries to one
The Chiefs gave the Lions a huge reality check in their first match of their Australasian tour, the home team winning 38-8.
The Round 12 Super Rugby encounter on Saturday showed just how far the Lions still have to go to be really competitive, despite some early season wins at home.
The Chiefs outscored the Lions by six tries to one, despite playing only in patches and the defending champions still being well off the pace that earned them back-to-back titles.
The Lions' scrum was as powerful as it has been all season and certainly had he Chiefs' set-piece under immense pressure. The line-outs and breakdowns were far bigger contests.
However, it was in open play where the Chiefs posed the biggest threats to the visitors from South Africa - especially once they got their phase-play going.
The home team's kick-'n-chase game was also very effective and they played to the referee, who seemed to allow all-sorts at the breakdown.
If there is one criticism of the Chiefs, it is that at times they lack the balance between building pressure - which they did very effective in the last 10 minutes of the first half and first 10 minutes of the second half - and their propensity for all-out attack.
An early Elton Jantjies penalty - coming after a powerful scrum - gave the Lions some hope.
It took the Chiefs about 20 minutes to get into their rhythm, as they patiently worked their way through the phases - Gareth Anscombe eventually breaking a weak tackle by Derick Minnie to go over. The flyhalf added the conversion - 7-0.
Anscombe failed with a sitter just minutes later and then a Chiefs try was disallowed after Josh Hohneck ran an obstructive line to allowed Tawera Kerr-Barlow to make a clean break.
That was followed by a very crazy ruling that gifted the Chiefs a try - Hohneck again running an obstructive line well ahead of the runners, while Tanerau Latimer also knocked the ball on. The TMO gave the thumbs up on both occasions.
The Lions seemed to lose their composure and after being beaten to the punch at a ruck - even though the TMO was again called upon to rule on the score - a try was awarded to Charlie Ngatai, who had hacked the ball ahead and followed up to dot down.
Anscombe added the conversion of the third try to give the home team a handy 19-3 lead at the break.
The Chiefs got the bonus-point try just minutes after the second-half restart, prop Pauliasi Manu barging his way over from close range after more effective phase play. Anscombe's conversion made it a commanding 26-3 lead.
The Lions, as they so often do, replied with a try of their own - their scrum again causing all kinds of problems for the Chiefs and the Lions pouncing on the scrappy ball behind the Chiefs set-piece. Jantjies showed great vision to draw the defender and put Courtnall Skosan into space. The conversion attempt was wide - 8-26.
The game then settled into a dour arm-wrestle - with the error count on both sides climbing at an alarming rate and the scoreboard staying static.
That was until the 72nd minute - a shocking kick by Marnitz Boshoff gifting the Chiefs field position and a great grubber by Anscombe putting Bundee Aki up for the try. The conversion attempt was wide, but at 31-8 the fat lady was clearing her vocal chords.
The Lions' defensive lines started to disintegrate as the heads dropped and some players lost interest - Tim Nanai-Williams the next to slip through some half-hearted tackles and over the line. Replacement Andrew Horrell added the extras - 38-8.
That was the final score.
Man of the match: Warren Whitely was again the Lions' most productive forward, Franco Mostert gave as good as he got against All Black Brodie Retallick, replacement Willie Britz showed the value he can add and Courtnall Skosan was threatening on attack. For the Chiefs there were the usual suspects - Sam Cane, Brodie Retallick and Ross Filipo among the forwards; Tim Nanai-Williams, Charlie Ngatai, Gareth Anscombe and Tawera Kerr-Barlow in the backline. However, it was Chiefs No.8 Liam Messam - who produced a number of very effective carries, his usual high tackle count and effective work at the breakdown - that wins our vote.
For the Chiefs:
Tries: Anscombe, Latimer, Ngatai, Manu, Aki, Nanai-Williams
Cons: Anscombe 3, Horrell
For the Lions:
Chiefs: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Dwayne Sweeney, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 James Lowe, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Tanerau Latimer, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Ross Filipo, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Ben Tameifuna, 19 Matt Symons, 20 Mike Fitzgerald, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Bundee Aki, 23 Andrew Horrell.
Lions: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 20 Willie Britz, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Jacobus Jonker.
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Mike Lash (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
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