It was third time lucky for the previously winless Chiefs as the Kiwi outfit beat the Rebels 38-10 in Hamilton on Saturday.
It was third time lucky for the previously winless Chiefs as the New Zealand outfit beat the Rebels 38-10 at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday.
The four-tries-to-one bonus point victory ended a six-match losing streak at home for the Chiefs, who will be relieved to bank their first log points of the 2011 Super Rugby season.
It wasn't pretty, at times it was hard to watch as handling errors aplenty from both teams – partly due to the wet conditions – spoilt the game as a spectacle for the majority of the match.
The first half especially wasn't anything to write home about, but the Chiefs gradually got better as the match wore on with the last five minutes proving most entertaining when speed merchant Lelia Masaga raced 80m for a magical try.
It was a much better effort from the rampant Chiefs though in all facets of play, with fly-half Stephen Donald knocking over nearly everything – he missed two – from the kicking tee to bag a personal haul of 18 points.
As for the Rebels? They need to work on their set-pieces before the Sharks come knocking – the scrum was again exposed, while the battle at the breakdown was lost more than it was won.
They did at least manage to cross the whitewash with a deserved try to number eight and vice captain Gareth Delve who went over from close range following a rare visit to the Chiefs' line. Though, it's safe to say the visitors hardly ever felt threatened their hosts who lost skipper and All Blacks full-back Mils Muliaina with a lower back injury after 20 minutes.
The Rebels looked good early on and would have scored the opening try had Julian Huxley not knocked on a few metres out from the line when he had men on his outside. The Chiefs also butchered a try when a long pass from Liam Messam put Dwayne Sweeney into space, but the outside centre opted to take contact instead of offloading to the flying Masaga.
Despite monopolising possession in the first half, the Chiefs were reliant on the boot of the recalled Donald to give them a 6-3 advantage until Sivi Sivivatu grabbed the opening try. The All Blacks winger finished off a move sparked by lock Isaac Ross to cross five minutes before half-time.
Donald extended his side's lead to 16-3 at the break and the Chiefs were over again seven minutes after the interval with a Masaga evaded two would-be tacklers and then slid over in the corner to put the match beyond the Rebels.
Delve managed to score with 22 minutes left to give the Rebels a glimmer of hope, but that was extinguished when Chiefs replacement prop Sona Taumalolo drove over a few minutes later.
The Chiefs saved their best until last with a length of the field effort two minutes from time to clinch a fourth-try bonus point.
Tim Nani-Williams, on for Muliaina, scooped up the ball five metres from his own line, fed Tana Umaga who released Masaga and the winger showed blistering pace to outstrip the defence and slide over for his second try of the night.
Tries: Sivivatu, Masaga 2, Taumalolo
Cons: Donald 4
Pens: Donald 4
Chiefs: 15 Mils Muliaina (c), 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Dwayne Sweeney, 12 Tana Umaga, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Scott Waldrom, 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Nathan White, 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Ben May.
Replacements: 16 Sona Taumalolo, 17 Hika Elliot, 18 Romana Graham, 19 Steven Setephano, 20 Taniela Moa, 21 Mike Delany, 22 Tim Nanai-Williams.
Rebels: 15 Mark Gerrard, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Julian Huxley, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Kevin O'Neill, 4 Adam Byrnes, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessman, 17 Laurie Weeks, 18 Alister Campbell, 19 Tom Chamberlin, 20 Richard Kingi, 21 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 22 Peter Betham.
Referee: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)