The Chiefs are still alive in Super Rugby, but the stumble against the Hurricanes last night has point for concern.
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James Lowe looked good on his return to the field after several weeks on the injury list, making several open play kicks as usual and looking likely with ball in hand, but Sonny Bill Williams looked a shadow of his former self.
Williams was eager to offload as per usual, but he didn’t think through his passing very well on occasion, including one handoff to a Hurricanes defender which put his side on the back foot.
The Chiefs had a 13-point lead in the first half, only to cough up 21-points to lose in convincing fashion.
Another yellow card was added to the club’s telly, but that was the least of the problems when referee Chris Pollock also gave the Hurricanes a penalty try after Tom Marshall shoulder barged Julian Savea on the try line.
Despite captain Liam Messam’s appeals, replays clearly showed no arms in Marshall’s tackle.
From there, the Hurricanes turned an underwhelming start into a storming comeback, helped in large by several handling errors from the Chiefs and some questionable decisions to turn down shots at goal with many minutes to play.
Marty McKenzie landed all his attempts on goal but didn’t appear to take the ball to the line all that often, and this wasn’t helped with a floating pass out back which James Marshall intercepted to score the Hurricanes second try and put the hosts behind on the scoreboard.
An underwhelming performance where the Chiefs had placed themselves in a decent position to win, and many will say that the Chiefs have no one to blame but themselves, and looking at the tape it is hard to argue against that.
Augustine Pulu also went into surgery last night according to a post on Instagram, presumably to repair the injured wrist.
The Chiefs will now travel to Dunedin to play the Highlanders in the wildcard playoffs next Saturday.