The Chiefs put paid to any spluttering hopes the Waratahs may have had to win the Australian Conference when they when they scored 18 points in the first 30 minutes in Hamilton.
The scoring was even in the second half as the Waratahs played their regulation good 40-minute period, but again, it was too late.
The Chiefs shell-shocked the sleepy Waratahs from the outset. One team was playing, the other was watching them making breaking breaks at will out wide.
They were prepared for the Waratahs’ narrow defence and shifted the ball out quickly. They often outflanked the defence or turned back in and stepped inside the tackle, and they targeted the slow-turning Taqele Naiyaravoro. .
Aaron Cruden and Anton Liernert-Brown combined to put Mitchell Brown away for the first try and Damian McKenzie zipped in and around defenders to put James Lowe away to score the next one. The Chiefs lead 10-0 at 16 minutes.
The Waratahs tried to attack but poor discipline and handling cost them dearly. Only Israel Folau was a constant threat. The fullback chimed into the attack nicely and either beat defenders and then kept the ball alive or drew the defence and passed to put the winger away.
Tolu Latu was yellow carded in the 35th minute for a stupid trip and the Chiefs accelerated as the Waratahs wilted.
Halftime score: Chiefs 18 – Waratahs 3
Tawera Kerr-Barlow – should have got extra points for his dive
The Chiefs scored two quick tries whilst Latu was still in the bin—one to James Lowe and another to Tawera Kerr-Barlow. Chiefs 32-3 four minutes after the break.
The Waratahs attack revved into gear in the second half as many breaks were made, passes stuck and offloads landed.
Rob Horne and Will Skelton scored the next two tries—in six minutes. Horne’s try was from just inside halfway when he intercepted a wayward pass from McKenzie. Skelton’s was from a rolling maul. Chiefs 32-17 with 24 minutes left.
But the Chiefs responded quickly with another try to Kerr-Barlow.
Next the inexperience of the referee Paul Williams was made evident. On a Waratah penalty, there was a late tackle by Liam Messam, followed by a player running in from both sides. The first one in that caused a scuffle was a Chiefs’ player. The referee yellow carded both of them but inexplicably awarded the penalty to the Chiefs.
Additionally the referee forgot to call time off and 2-3 minutes were lost.
The Waratahs responded by scoring two tries in two minutes, one from close range and the other from over 40 metres. One was to the winger Cameron Clark the other to the prop Sekope Kepu.
It was Kepu who sprinted 45 metres breaking tackles, out-sprinting Lowe and repeatedly palming off McKenzie. It was a sight to see. It was the 73rd minute and the score was Chiefs 39-31.
Stranger things have happened but…the Chiefs had the final say with clever work by Cruden assisting Lowe for his third try.
Final score: Chiefs 46 – Waratahs 31
Sekopu Kepu – scored brilliant prop’s try from a long way out
Most of the stats would indicate that the Waratahs should have won. They had 60% possession: they ran more metres; they had more carries; they beat more defenders; they had the same number of clean breaks; they had more passes. The Chiefs had more offloads.
As has been the case all year it was the defence that cost Waratahs this game.
The Waratahs missed 25% of the tackles they attempted. They let in more than 40 points, and let in six tries to the four allowed by The Tribe. Eerily these are the same stats against all the New Zealand teams this season, scoring four ties to six and having more than 40 points scored against them by each.
Horwitz, Foley and Naiyaravoro missed the most tackles in the backs and Latu and Kepu the most in the forwards.
Nathan Grey has done a poor job as defence coach and it is of great concern that he is the Wallabies’ defence coach.
Israel Folau – back in form now
Folau , Horne, Hooper and Kepu were the best for the Waratahs. It is must be welcome for the Wallabies that Folau is back in form with four high-standard games in a row.
But to balance the Wallabies should be concerned at the drop in form of Foley in his last two games notably against New Zealand opposition. You often read that someone has a rock and diamonds game. Foley had a rocks and stones type of game. Foley kicked poorly from hand missing several penalties for touch, missed several tackles, made poor passes and lacked creativity.
The Chiefs excelled in fast moving attack and amazing ball handling skills at pace. They were the deserved winners. James Lowe, Kerr-Barlow, Damian McKenzie, and Liam Messam were the best for the Chiefs.
James Lowe – hat-trick try scorer and Man-of-the-Match
The Game Changer
Tolu Latu’s yellow card.
The two tries scored in his absence were killers.
The Chief’s lead was increased by 14 during while he was sitting down and the Waratahs’ comeback was delayed also.[/one_third]
The G&GR MOTM
James Lowe was dangerous all night.
He was fired up in attack and defence, a man on a mission.
Broke tackle after tackle, and had the knack of popping up in all the right places.[/one_third]
Folau had a top game; Kepu was good in attack and in the scrum; Latu was poorly disciplined; Hanigan went missing; Hooper was energetic; Foley’s play was mistake-ridden; Robertson scrummed poorly but played well otherwise. [/one_third]
Score & Scorers
Chiefs – 46
Tries: J. Lowe (30′, 40′, 78′), T. Kerr-Barlow (43′, 59′) M. Brown (14′).
Conversions: D. McKenzie (16′, 42′, 44′, 60′, 78′).
Penalties: D. McKenzie (8′, 21′).
Waratahs – 31
Tries: R. Horne (49′), W. Skelton (55′), C. Clark (72′), S. Kepu (73′).
Conversions: B. Foley (50′, 56′, 72′, 74′).
Penalty: B. Foley (40′).
Cards & Citings
Waratahs – T. Latu (37′) – foul play (tripping)
Chiefs – M. Brown (64′) – running in.
Waratahs – P. Ryan (64′) – running in.