Two of the Chiefs senior men stood out from the rest – once again – to reaffirm just how big a loss they will be in the future.
Those two men are halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow, and winger James Lowe. One an All Black, and the other desperately unlucky not to feature under Steve Hansen’s regime. Both men will depart New Zealand Rugby once 2017 is done, but the showing during the Chiefs latest Super Rugby win is memorable.
TKB and James Lowe Stand Out… Again
The Chiefs are a better side when Kerr-Barlow starts at halfback – that is absolutely undeniable at this point. Kerr-Barlow is one of the most experienced heads in the team, his departure next season will be a major loss for the club, and a difficult replacement for incoming coach Colin Cooper.
Kerr-Barlow’s impact on the rest of the Chiefs back line is felt – and with Brad Weber not being available due to injury – Kerr-Barlow has been without rival this season. The veteran has excelled this year, and it’s been one of the most noticeable areas of reliability in an often unbalanced back line.
James Lowe was equally as impressive on the night; but this is a much bigger story than just that.
You could argue that Lowe should have had a run in the All Blacks last year; and whether the man himself chooses to admit it or not, missing out was a great disappointment. Lowe raced out of the blocks to find his way to the try line on frequent occasion to start the Super Rugby season, and after the effort in New Plymouth, he currently sits on six tries from nine games.
Chiefs Scrum & Lineout Back On Track
The Chiefs defense was on song and would go on to miss just five tackles in the entire game against the Reds. Led once again by Brodie Retallick, the Chiefs defenders were too fast for the Reds who couldn’t deal with the pressure.
The Chiefs defenders swamped Quade Cooper and Sevu Kerivi, two big playmakers, all night long and managed to push the visitors back several metres on frequent occasion. Unlike in previous weeks; the lineout and scrum was also much improved, and Tawera Kerr-Barlow’s poise at the breakdown setup Stephen Donald’s second trip over the try line.
Those two areas were key to the Chiefs 46-17 win over the Reds. You can read more about that here.
The Chiefs now have a week off, and they got into it having comfort in the knowledge that they put on a much improved performance against the Reds after a difficult few weeks. It’s not always about winning or losing, it’s about how you do so, and the areas of scrum and line out were far improved, and this is what’s most pleasing.
Next up is the Crusaders, arguably the form side in the competition, in a game that takes place on neutral territory in Suva.
“Main photo credit”