The Chiefs recorded their first win of the Super 14 season when they smashed an out-of-sorts Lions team 34-7 in an error-riddled match at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Friday.
It took the Chiefs seven weeks, but they ended their drought by outscoring the hapless Lions by five tries to one.
When they win, they do it with flashing lights, it seems. It was the Chiefs' first win in the Super 14 and a five-try, bonus-point win - and they were full value for it.
They played with refreshed enthusiasm while the Lions lacked all conviction. Numbers did it for the Chiefs. They had numbers on defence, numbers at the breakdown and numbers on attack. The Lions lacked numbers at the breakdown and so conceded turn-overs and only once managed to produce an overlap which produced their only try.
André Pretorius, who had a poor game in judgement and execution, repeatedly turned the ball back inside where the Chiefs, who have big loose forwards, had no difficulty in coping at close quarters.
It was not an enthralling match for these two injury-battered sides but a satisfying one for the Chiefs. The Lions head back to the Highveld after their four-match tour with two wins in Australia and two sobering experiences in New Zealand.
It took the Chiefs little time to get going as Stephen Donald goaled the first penalty when Ernst Joubert was penalised at the tackle. In the first half, with the bit of breeze behind them, the Chiefs did the attacking and the Lions compounded their problems by conceding seven penalties - to two by the Chiefs. The breeze seemed to matter, because the Lions, who till this match had conceded few penalties per match, had the favour of the penalties in the second half!
The Chiefs also got the first try when they attacked on the right and Brendon Leonard slipped a delicate, left-footed grubber at the Lions' corner where Donald slapped a hand on the ball for the try. 8-0 after nine minutes.
Pretorius had his best moment in the match soon afterwards when he dummied and sped inside Liam Messam but there was no support and his run was soon smashed down.
The Chiefs made a penalty into a five-metre line-out. The Chiefs shifted the ball and drove at the Lions' line where things fell down and Jacques Cronjé was penalised and sent to the sin bin. The Chiefs repeated the dose and this time Marty Holah, who had a great game, scored. 13-0 after 22 minutes.
That was the half-time score.
The Lions had a promising moment early in the second half but Cronjé knocked on and the next thing the Chiefs were attacking - left, right, and left again. The Chiefs lost the ball to a Lions scrum but they put huge pressure on the Lions, Holah won the ball and Donald cut inside Jaque Fourie for a tiny stroll over the line. 20-0 after 49 minutes.
The Lions had some attacking moments and passed up three easy kicks at goal in an effort to score tries. Jaco Pretorius did a dart to the Chiefs' posts where he was hauled down and the Chiefs were penalised for going in the side and off-side at the same time, though this did not produce a yellow card or even a talking-to. Twice the Lions tapped penalties in this five-metre area till eventually Louis Ludik lost the ball in a heavy tackle. Apart from Jaco Pretorius's dart they did not really look like scoring a try. For one thing their hands were too brittle and for another their running lines gave nobody a sniff of the line.
The Chiefs got close but the Lions held out and then got their try - a super try, the best created try of the match as they went through many phases and when they came wide left replacement Jannie Boshoff had an overlap. He stood firm in a tackle and played inside to André Pretorius who had an open passage to the line for the try which he converted.
Having scored the try André Pretorius then made the Chiefs the present of two tries.
The Lions won a Chiefs' line-out and Joubert ploughed ahead. Back a beautiful ball came but Pretorius first knocked on and then tried to flick the spilled ball to his left. The Chiefs with gleeful gratitude kicked the ball on and Liam Messam gathered with nobody between him and the posts. 20-7 with six minutes to play.
The Lions came back on the attack and, well inside the Chiefs 22, André Pretorius passed to his right - straight to Tane Tu'ipulotu who ran 85 metres to the Lions goal-line for a try which delighted the whole of the Waikato. Dwayne Sweeney converted off the upright.
Man of the Match: The candidates were all Chiefs except for Cobus Grobbelaar who battled away with energy and purpose throughout. The Chiefs loose forwards, each in his different ways, were outstanding - fast, strong Liam Messam, ubiquitous, effective, strong Marty Holah and powerful Sione Lauaki. Brendon Leonard at halfback buzzed about to great effect but the man who set it up and got two tries, our Man of the Match, Stephen Donald, who attacked the Lions time and again, running at André Pretorius, kicking with telling effect and clearly enjoying himself.
For the Chiefs:
Tries: Donald 2, Holah, Messam, Tu'ipulotu
Cons: Donald, Sweeney 2
For the Lions:
Try: A Pretorius
Con: A Pretorius
Yellow card: Jacques Cronjé (Lions, 21 - professional foul, collapsing the maul)
Chiefs: 15 Dwayne Sweeney, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Tane Tu'ipulotu, 12 Tasesa Lavea, 11 Roy Kinikinilau, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Sione Lauaki, 5 Keith Robinson, 4 Kristian Ormsby, 3 Nathan White, 2 Tom Willis (c), 1 Simms Davison
Replacements: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Ben Castle, 18 Toby Lynn, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Jamie Nutbrown, 21 Niva Ta'auso, 22 Jared Payne.
Lions: 15 Jaco van Schalkwyk, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jaco Pretorius, 11 Wylie Human, 10 André Pretorius (c), 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Jacques Cronjé, 7 Ernst Joubert, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Anton van Zyl, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Bertus Smit, 18 Gordon Gilfillan, 19 Franco van der Merwe, 20 Enrico Januarie, 21 Louis Strydom, 22 Jannie Boshoff.
Referee: James Leckie (Australia)
Touch judges: George Ayoub (Australia) Kelvin Deaker (New Zealand)
Television match official: Jonothan White (New Zealand)
Assessor: Alan Riley (New Zealand), Dennis Immelman (South Africa)