The 2015 Super Rugby is over for the Chiefs after losing to the Highlanders 24-14 in Dunedin tonight.
(Photo credit: Zimbio via Google Images)
The Highlanders were as elusive as ever with ball in hand, scoring two tries both by the brilliant skill of Waisake Naholo who is now surely one of the leading candidates to be announced in the All Blacks squad tomorrow.
Aaron Smith proved that he is undoubtedly the best halfback in the world tonight.
Smith played a key part in both tries, using his speed and vision to fool the Chiefs defenders who couldn’t put a hand on him all night.
Handling errors haunted the Chiefs, dropping the ball at key moments coupled with crucial misses on goal by Andrew Horrell who coughed up a potential six points in the first half.
Brodie Retallick refused to let his side die, powering over the line late in the game, but the final few build-up plays failed, two ending in handling errors, and one when Seta Tamanivalu was penalised in the ruck, effectively ending the Chiefs chances of levelling the scores with a minute to play.
When the Highlanders were awarded a penalty on the full-time hooter, Lima Sopoaga slotted the kick to send the Highlanders to their first semi final in 19 years.
Waisake Naholo is certainly New Zealand’s next All Black, he shut down the Chiefs defense each time he had the ball, and he performed in the big playoff game with the season on the line, something the All Black selectors would have noticed.
Naholo is now the top try scorer for Highlanders in a single season.
The Highlanders will play either the Hurricanes or the Waratahs next week as the playoffs continue.