Planet Rugby

Chiefs edge past the Force

10th May 2013 10:22

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Aaron Cruden

Flawless kicking: Aaron Cruden

The Chiefs were made to work for their 22-21 win over the Force, with ill-discipline costing the visitors in Pukekohe.

Despite the Force giving a good enough account of themselves in the first half and showing some towering defence in the second half, the Chiefs were allowed to keep the scoreboard ticking over almost every time they got into the Force 22 in the opening period as a consistent string of infringements gave Aaron Cruden easy three-point opportunities.

After a scrappy start to the game in which both teams exchanged rather aimless kicks, the Force opened the scoring courtesy of a try from Pat Dellit in just the third minute. With a poor pass from Sias Ebersohn grubbered towards the sideline, Dellit ran onto the ball and booted it down the touchline before out-pacing the Chiefs defence to dive over for the score.

It was the last of the scoring the Force would contribute for some time as the Chiefs proceeded to run in 16 unanswered points.

A Cruden penalty got the hosts on the board before Lelia Masaga picked up the Chiefs first five-pointer. The winger rounded off an impressive period of play in which the defending champions worked the ball through eight phases of pick and goes before spreading it wide for Masaga to cross over.

Cruden kept his side moving in the right direction with three further penalties, two of which were cancelled out by the boot of Jayden Hayward to see the Chiefs take a 19-11 lead into the break.

The Chiefs number ten extended the lead by three more points but the Force began to show more of an attacking edge after warming up in the second half.

They were rewarded for their efforts first with a Hayward penalty and then a second try, with Dellit again the man crossing the whitewash. Nick Cummins was the man to provide the required spark, breaking through the midfield and into the 22 before the ball was worked out wide to his fellow winger to make it a one-point ball game.

The try saw Chiefs coach Dave Rennie ring the changes and the replacements had the desired effect with the hosts putting down the gas and taking charge of proceedings.

For the final quarter it was all the hosts but as the Reds found out last week, the Perth outfit's defence is tough to breach, with attack after attack repelled.

Despite being reduced to 14 men after Kieran Longbottom was sent to the sin bin following three scrum-related penalties five metres out from the line, the Force would not budge.

With the Chiefs advantage remaining just one point, there was always the danger that the visitors would sneak a late score to steal the spoils and Ebershon had a shot at goal from 55 metres out with just two minutes on the clock but he was well short with the effort.

The Chiefs were able to hang on to see out the victory, with the Force's mammoth defence not enough to grab a surprise win.

The scorers:

For Chiefs:

Tries: Masaga, Cruden
Con: Cruden
Pen: Cruden

For Western Force:

Tries: Dellit 2
Con: Hayward
Pen: Hayward 3

Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Save Tokula, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Matt Vant Leven, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 1Ben Tameifuna, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Charlie Ngatai, 22 Asaeli Tikoirotuma.

Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Ben Jacobs, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Matt Hodgson (c), 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Pek Cowan
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Rory Walton, 19 Richard Brown, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Junior Rasolea, 22 Sam Norton-Knight.

Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant referees: Nick Briant and Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri

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