Planet Rugby

Chiefs hold off Rebels fightback

12th April 2014 10:23

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Tanerau Latimer Chiefs v Rebels SR 2014

Tanerau Latimer takes on the Rebels defence

The Chiefs staved off a late fightback from the Rebels before claiming a hard-fought 22-16 victory in Hamilton on Saturday.

Stand-in fly-half Gareth Anscombe was the home side's hero, contributing 17 points via five penalties and a conversion but the Chiefs will be disappointed that they didn't capitalise on their early dominance which saw them racing into a 19-0 lead inside the opening quarter.

The hosts dominated dominated and three Anscombe penalties inside the opening 10 minutes gave them a 6-0 lead. The visitors were battling at the breakdowns - particularly captain Scott Higginbotham, who was penalised several times - and Anscombe added another penalty in the 12th minute before Michael Fitzgerald got the game's opening try in the 15th minute.

Anscombe, who was doing a fine job deputising for injured All Blacks pivot Aaron Cruden, showed that goal-kicking was not the only string to his bow as he made the initial break which set up Fitzgerald's five-pointer.

Anscombe added the extras and gave his side a 19-0 lead when he slotted another penalty in the 21st minute as the Rebels were still struggling to come to terms with the Chiefs' intensity in most facets of play.

The men from Melbourne eventually got onto the scoreboard via a Jason Woodward penalty in the 26th minute after several Chiefs were caught offside while on defence close to their try-line.

The rest of the half saw more attacking from the home side but their finishing let them down and the only other points of the opening period came via a Woodward penalty on the stroke of half-time which meant the Chiefs held a 19-6 lead at the interval.

After the restart, the Rebels stepped up a gear while the Chiefs' intensity levels seemed to drop remarkably.

The visitors attacked from the kick-off and were rewarded in the 43rd minute when Shota Horie crashed over the whitewash from close quarters. This after Tom English laid the groundwork with a fine attacking run after the Rebels had initially attacked from a line-out on the Chiefs' 22.

Woodward slotted the conversion which meant the home side's lead was reduced to six points but although the Rebels were more competitive, their indiscipline at the breakdowns would come back to haunt them 10 minutes later.

Higginbotham was the man who paid the price when referee Matt O'Brien sent him to the sin bin for a cynical foul close to his try-line after the Chiefs launched a maul at a line-out on the Rebels' five-metre line.

With the visitors down to 14 men, the Chiefs tried to make their numerical advantage count but they could not breach their opponents' defensive line. The Chiefs eventually opted to kick at goal and Anscombe's 58th minute penalty gave them some breathing space but it would prove to be the last time that the hosts would add to their points tally.

Despite losing their captain, the Rebels fightback continued and another Woodward penalty in the 64th minute brought them within a converted try of taking the lead.

They spent most of the closing stages inside the Chiefs' half but could not extend their lead. Woodward had an opportunity to narrow the gap to three points but his penalty attempt, in the 75th minute was off target.

That setback didn't deter the Rebels, who kept up the pressure but although the Chiefs were also reduced to 14 men in the 76th minute - when Pauliasi Manu was yellow carded for deliberately collapsing a maul - the visitors could not convert their dominance into points.

The scorers:

For Chiefs:
Try: Fitzgerald
Con: Anscombe
Pens: Anscombe 5
Yellow card: Manu (76th minute, deliberately collapsing a maul)

For Rebels:
Try: Horie
Con: Woodward
Pens: Woodward 3
Yellow card: Higginbotham (55th minute, professional foul)

Chiefs: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Mils Muliaina, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Tanerau Latimer, 5 Brodie Retallick (c), 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Ross Filipo, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 Jordan Payne.

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Male Sau, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga'a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emilie, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Tom Kingston, 23 Angus Roberts.

Referee: Matt O'Brien (Australia)

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