The Chiefs have injected some confidence into their ranks ahead of next weekend’s Super Rugby season-opener, after a 21-19 win in their final trial match against the Reds in Brisbane on Friday night.
Having been underwhelming in a first-up 43-10 pre-season loss to the Blues in Kaikohe last weekend, the Chiefs would have been desperate to see some improvements at Ballymore before their opening fixture against the Highlanders in Hamilton next Friday.
And the coaching staff would have been delighted with their speed out of the blocks – leading 14-0 inside 10 minutes – before then having to watch their troops work hard in the heat for the three-tries-apiece victory, in front of nearly 5000 raucous fans.
While the visitors were without their All Blacks, the Reds welcomed four Wallabies back into their ranks who sat out the team’s opening trial loss to the Rebels in Ballarat last weekend.
Brad Thorn’s side – who have a bye in the opening round – were left playing catchup as Shaun Stevenson ran onto a long kick to score in the second minute, before the fullback turned provider in putting through a grubber for centre Bailyn Sullivan to extend the margin.
The Reds were able to remain in the contest thanks to a dominant scrum, and after a succession of penalties against the visitors, referee Nic Berry waved a yellow card the way of Chiefs loosehead Atu Moli, who succumbed to the power of Taniela Tupou.
The Chiefs were quick to respond, with winger Tyler Campbell running onto a cross-field kick, but then the Reds were also rapid in reply, with prop Ruan Smith dummying left and right and thundering over. Filipo Daugunu wasn’t able to land the tough conversion though, and it left the Chiefs protecting their two-point lead in the final five minutes.
And they certainly were tested, with the Reds attacking inside their half in the final stages, before eventually bumbling possession.
AT A GLANCE
Chiefs 21 (Shaun Stevenson, Bailyn Sullivan, Tyler Campbell tries; Jack Debreczeni 2 con, Stevenson con) Reds 19 (Harry Hoopert, Tate McDermott, Ruan Smith tries; Bryce Hegarty con, Filipo Daugunu con) HT: 14-0.