The Chiefs made it two Super Rugby wins from two on Saturday as they came from behind to defeat the Highlanders 21-19.
The Chiefs made it two Super Rugby wins from two on Saturday as they came from behind to edge the Highlanders 21-19 at Waikato Stadium.
It was another classic counter-attacking performance from the defending champions, who outscored their visitors three tries to one but needed a late try to snatch the victory having trailed on the scoreboard for over an hour.
In such a long tournament, patience is invaluable and the Chiefs showed plenty of character, biding their time before striking at key moments.
A gritty, committed performance from the visitors saw the Highlanders led 16-7 at half time thanks to a try from a rolling maul and handful of penalties from fly-half Lima Sopoaga.
The Chiefs grabbed the opening try via a textbook score out wide from Tim Nanai-Williams but, as was the case in Christchurch last week, the champions were made to live off scraps of possession and spent most of the first 40 minutes pinned in their own half.
The Highlanders pack shut the hosts out with some classic driving play and were rewarded with a try in the 32nd minute as John Hardie touched down.
Chiefs skipper Liam Messam muscled his way over early in the second half to reduce the deficit to just two points heading into the final half-hour as the Chiefs turned up the tempo.
Sopoaga's fourth penalty gave the Highlanders a five-point lead on the hour mark but the Chiefs hit back in brilliant fashion as Asaeli Tikoirotuma collected Aaron Cruden's kick to the touchline before offloading to Charlie Ngatai, who finished in the corner.
Tries: Nanai-Williams, Messam, Ngatai
Cons: Cruden 3
Pens: Sopoaga 4
Chiefs: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden (c), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Nick Crosswell, 5 Matt Symons, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahroni Schwalger, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Tevita Koloamatangi, 20 Liam Squire, 21 Brad Webber, 22 Andrew Horrell, 23 James Lowe.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Winston Stanley, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Malakai Fekitoa, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 John Hardie, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Chris King, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Matias Diaz, 18 Craig Millar, 19 Josh Bekhuis, 20 Shane Christie, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Trent Renata, 23 Phil Burleigh.
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)