McKenzie brilliance too much for Sunwolves

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 05:36

SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Chiefs managed a hard-earned 27-20 win over the Sunwolves in Hamilton on Saturday, to cement their place in the play-off zone.

However, it was not as convincing as pundits had claimed it would be and the Chiefs also squandered a late opportunity to secure a bonus point.

It required a couple of moments of brilliance from fullback Damian McKenzie - who contributed two tries, two conversions and a penalty to his team's total - to get the home side over the line.

"We're winning ugly," Chiefs captain Sam Cane admitted as one of the leading sides in the competition struggled to hold off the worst performing team.

For much of the game, the unfancied Sunwolves tore up the form book and were the dominant side as they humbled the Chiefs' forwards in the set pieces and floored the Waikato backs with crunching tackles.

But the outcome was settled when the Chiefs piled on 15 points to close out the first half.

The Sunwolves, from being a slender 5-3 behind after the first quarter, found themselves trailing 20-3 at half-time.

They came back to win the second half 17-7 but could not completely close the gap.

"A tough match is a good way to put," Cane said.

"The Sunwolves came to play. They're adventurous, they throw the ball around, and gee they play with some courage and they put us under pressure.

"But we got the win. We're winning ugly at the moment which is tough for us."

It was a bold effort by the Sunwolves whose maiden visit to New Zealand had seen them lose 3-50 to the Crusaders and 15-40 to the Highlanders.

Another high score seemed on the cards when Hika Elliot scored for the Chiefs in the third minute but the Sunwolves had other ideas.

They controlled the next 20 minutes, during which they won four penalties inside the Chiefs' 22, although referee Will Houston did not find this excessive and there was no warning issued.

After battering away at the line for no reward, the Sunwolves took the points with a fifth penalty which flyhalf Hayden Cripps converted.

Relief for the Chiefs came when McKenzie combined with Aaron Cruden to send Solomon Alaimalo over for a try.

He added a penalty and then beat three defenders to score and convert himself as the Chiefs pulled away to a 20-3 lead at the break.

A revived Sunwolves took control at the start of the second half and were rewarded with a try to Fumiaki Tanaka.

When McKenzie added his second try for the Chiefs, Derek Carpenter responded with a second for the Sunwolves which was converted by Jamie-Jerry Taulagi who also landed a penalty.

With time up and the Chiefs pressing for a bonus point try, the Sunwolves had Carpenter sin-binned for a deliberate knock down and Taulagi was red-carded for a shoulder charge.

Man of the match: Derek Carpenter, Edward Quirk, Sam Wykes and Willem Britz were the players providing the energy for the Sunwolves. Sam Cane, Dominic Bird and Hika Elliot also worked very hard for the Chiefs. However, it was the brilliance of Chiefs fullback Damian McKenzie that swung this match and he gets our award.

The scorers:

For the Chiefs:
Tries:
 Elliot, Alaimalo, McKenie 2
Cons: McKenzie 2
Pen: McKenzie

For the Sunwolves:
Tries:
 Tanaka, Carpenter
Cons: Taulagi 2
Pens: Cripps, Taulagi

Yellow card: Derek Carpenter (Sunwolves, 83 - cynical foul, deliberate knockdown)
Red card: Jamie-Jerry Taulagi (Sunwolves, 83 - foul play, shoulder to the head)

Teams:

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Solomon Alaimalo, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Stephen Donald, 11 Sam McNicol, 10 Aaron Cruden (captain), 9 Jonathan Taumateine, 8 Sam Cane, 7 Mitchell Karpik, 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Taleni Seu, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Sosefo Kautai, 19 Mitchell Brown, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Alex Nankivell, 22 Shaun Stevenson, 23 James Lowe.

Sunwolves: 15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Teruya Goto, 13 William Tupou, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Yasutaka Sasakura, 10 Hayden Cripps, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Willem Britz, 7 Shunsuke Nunomaki, 6 Edward Quirk, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Shinya Makabe, 3 Heiichiro Ito, 2 Takeshi Kizu, 1 Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Yusuke Niwai, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Uwe Helu, 20 Rahboni Vosayaco, 21 Yuki Yatomi, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi.

Referee: Will Houston (Australia)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Richard Kelly (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 26 May 2017
Blues v Chiefs 07h45 Auckland
Reds v Force 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Sat, 27 May 2017
Sunwolves v Cheetahs 05h15 Tokyo
Highlanders v Waratahs 07h35 Dunedin
Rebels v Crusaders 09h45 Melbourne
Bulls v Hurricanes 13h05 Loftus Versfeld
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 13h30 London
Sharks v Stormers 15h15 Kings Park
Munster v Scarlets 17h15 Dublin
Jaguares v Brumbies 21h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 28 May 2017
Lions v Kings 12h30 Ellis Park Stadium
Wed, 31 May 2017
England U20 v Samoa U20 07h00 Tbilisi
New Zealand U20 v Scotland U20 07h00 AIA Arena
South Africa U20 v France U20 09h30 Tbilisi
Ireland U20 v Italy U20 09h30 AIA Arena
Argentina U20 v Georgia U20 12h00 Tbilisi
Australia U20 v Wales U20 14h30 Tbilisi
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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 11 4 0 7 23
Waratahs 11 4 0 7 19
Reds 11 3 0 8 16
Force 11 3 0 8 13
Rebels 11 1 1 9 8
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 12 12 0 0 54
Hurricanes 11 9 0 2 43
Chiefs 11 9 0 2 43
Highlanders 12 9 0 3 41
Blues 12 6 0 6 31
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 11 7 0 4 30
Bulls 11 3 0 8 15
Cheetahs 12 2 0 10 11
Sunwolves 11 1 0 10 7
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 12 11 0 1 51
Sharks 12 8 1 3 38
Jaguares 11 5 0 6 24
Kings 11 4 0 7 19