Chiefs centre Jackson Willison scored a try at the death to help his team to a thrilling 29-22 Super Rugby win over the Brumbies on Friday.
Chiefs centre Jackson Willison scored a try at the death to help his team to a thrilling 29-22 Super Rugby win over the Brumbies in Mount Maunganui on Friday.
In what was expected to be an easy win for the Chiefs, coach Dave Rennie and his troops will breathe a huge sigh of relief after seeing off a determined Brumbies outfit who weren't given a chance in hell against their Kiwi opposition.
However, in typical underdog fashion, the visitors proved their critics wrong with an impressive performance that probably deserved a draw than a losing bonus point for their efforts in the end.
The see-saw battle saw both sides level at 22-22 with four minutes remaining after Brumbies goal-kicking ace Christian Lealiifano tied up the game to set up a nail-biting finish following a try to replacement lock Sam Carter.
With the clock winding down, the Chiefs had one last roll of the dice to save themselves blushes and got the match-winner they were looking for thanks to Willison's touchdown in the corner that broke Brumbies' hearts.
There wasn't much seperating the teams from start to finish as Aaron Cruden and opposite number Leali'ifano engaged in a tit-for-tat exchange of penalties for 69 minutes, until the score was locked at 15-15.
The Chiefs, though, broke from the script when they opted to kick to the corner and they were almost rewarded with a try, only for Nic White to hold up Liam Messam over the line.
However the try came from the resulting scrum, with try-scoring machine Sona Taumalolo powering over after Kane Thompson had been stopped short. Cruden converted his prop's try as the Chiefs took a 22-15, while their nervous supporters were running out of nails to chew.
The Brumbies' response was immediate however with Carter driving over from close range – the TMO ratifying the score. Lealiifano held his nerve to level the scores with the conversion with four minutes left.
And the rest as they say is history as Cruden wrapped up a superb individual display with the 79th minute conversion from out wide.
It was the Australian side's first loss of the season, while the Chiefs clinched their third win in four games.
Tries: Taumalolo, Willison
Cons: Cruden 2
Pens: Cruden 5
Pens: Lealiifano 5
Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Richard Kahui, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Tim Nanai-Williams, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Tanerau Latimer, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Arizona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Marcel Cummings-Toone, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Kane Thompson, 19 Scott Waldrom, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Maritino Nemani.
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Pat McCabe, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Joe Tomane, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Peter Kimlin, 4 Leon Power, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Ruaidhri Murphy, 18 Sam Carter, 19 Ita Vaea, 20 Nic White, 21 Zack Holmes, 22 Cam Crawford.
Referee: Ian Smith (Australia)