Chiefs battle through scrappy start to beat Cheetahs

It wasn’t exactly with discipline, but the Chiefs left Waikato Stadium with a convincing win over the Cheetahs 37-27.


The Chiefs made the perfect start to the game after driving downfield as the Cheetahs scrambled back in early defense.

Sonny Bill Williams pushed through and offloaded to Michael Leitch who had the momentum to go over for the early try.

With a seven-point lead, the Cheetahs clawed their way back quickly with two quick penalties that Joe Pietersen slotted through the uprights to bring his side back to within a single point.

Some weak Cheetahs defense cost the Cheetahs when Chiefs captain Liam Messam broke through a rolling maul and found space before breaking away to score the try under the sticks.

But with the lead, the Chiefs weren’t playing well at all.

Discipline was a major issue for the Chiefs in the first half, at one time conceding eight penalties to nil with offside at the ruck and incorrect joining costing field position on frequent occasions.

A forward pass to Boom Prinsloo was missed by match officials and the Cheetahs scored a try.

After Pieterson converted, the Cheetahs were within two points again.

In his 50th game, Mike Fitzgerald was sent to the sin bin after Craig Joubert had already warned the Chiefs on foul play.

The penalties kept coming, and Ben Tameifuna was also sent to the sin bin leaving the Chiefs two players down in the front row.

Damian McKenzie made a spectacular tackle right on halftime to stop Cheetahs winger Raymond Rhule from scoring a try to put his side into the lead.

The Chiefs went into halftime in front 14-13 at Waikato Stadium.

Restored to their full 15-man squad, the Chiefs started the second half on the right side of the referee and were awarded a penalty for illegal binding at the scrum.

Liam Messam took advantage of broken play and ran downfield, finding Weber on the pass as the Chiefs stormed the Cheetahs line.

A big tackle on Damian McKenzie popped the ball out of the Chiefs hands, costing what looked like a certain try.

Aaron Cruden slotted another penalty to push the Chiefs out to a seven-point lead.

From the kick off, the Chiefs mucked up the return and Aaron Cruden tried to scramble back but lost the ball in contact, allowing Cheetahs Heinrich Brussow to scoop up the ball and dive over the try line.

The Cheetahs locked it up 20-20 when Pietersen converted.

After coming close to scoring again, Aaron Cruden kicked the Chiefs a further three points from out in front to hand the lead back in his sides favour.

ITM Cup Player of the Year in 2014 Seta Tamanivalu found space with Bryce Heem open and unmarked to left but chose to take the ball into contact, costing the Chiefs a chance to score a crucial try as the game entered the final stage.

Cheetahs try scorer Heinrich Brussow was sent to the sin bin with 14-minutes to play.

With a weak scrum and a man down in the front row, Sam Cane took full advantage and ran through the exposed gap after Michael Leitch had drawn in the defenders, helping the Chiefs to setup their third try.

Cruden converted and the Chiefs had a ten-point lead with as many minutes to play.

When Augustine Pulu sprinted through a big Cheetahs gap off the scrum, Andrew Horrell was ready and waiting for the offload and had the momentum to power over the line to give the Chiefs their fourth try and a bonus point.

The Cheetahs scored a late consulation try thanks to Heinrich Brussow to close the gap.

The Chiefs beat the Cheetahs by ten points at Waikato Stadium and remain behind the Hurricanes in the NZ conference.

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