The Chiefs still find themselves behind the Crusaders at the top of Super Rugby’s NZ conference after a difficult encounter against the Force in Perth.
Liam Messam was the only try scorer; but the Chiefs were robbed a second when Aaron Cruden was ruled to have missed the mark after taking a tap right next to the referee on his way under the goalposts. Cruden nailed all his penalty kicks and was the only point scorer in the Second Half as the Chiefs scrapped their way to a 16-7 win.
With Tim Nanai Williams expected to be in contention for selection next week; the Chiefs experimented with their midfield pairing. Sam McNicol played at outside centre, much different to his usual position on the wing, but he appeared to work well with Anton Lienert-Brown. Toni Pulu is said to be the preferred option on the right wing but Shaun Stevenson has really staked a big claim in recent weeks, so this only makes a potential start for McNicol that much harder in his preferred spot.
Charlie Ngatai Returns To Rugby For University Club
After 11-months on the sidelines; Charlie Ngatai made his much anticipated return to rugby when he laced up the boots for University in Waikato’s club rugby competition. Selected at fullback and given one half of rugby; Ngatai said he was just excited to be back playing again. His side would go on to win, beating Otorohanga 30-20.
Ngatai suffered a major concussion last season, and it was feared his career could be over as a long and unpredictable recovery endured. At the time; Ngatai was in career best form and had earned selection for the All Blacks.
Interesting Road Ahead For The Chiefs
It was a scrappy affair right the way through the three week overseas tour for the Chiefs.
Dave Rennie’s men were lucky to get away with beating the Cheetahs after finding themselves 24-points behind; and the performance against the Force was a sign of a team just wanting to get home. Handling errors were high because the Chiefs were trying to throw passes that were never on, and a lack of discipline looks set to cost halfback Finlay Christie after he was cited for stamping.
Next up is the Sunwolves; and the Chiefs are expected to win big in front of their hometown fans. But following that, the schedule gets really interesting. Following a clash against the Reds, Rennie’s men will meet the Crusaders in what is likely to be a battle for the top of the NZ conference. After that, it’s the Blues in Auckland.
“Main photo credit”