Damian McKenzie rubberstamps All Blacks fly-half jersey with another stunning showing

David Skippers
Damian McKenzie Chiefs v Rebels SRP 2024 - Alamy.jpg

Chiefs fly-half Damian McKenzie in action against the Rebels in Melbourne,

All Blacks fly-half Damian McKenzie was the hero for the Chiefs as he slotted a last-gasp penalty which sealed a 26-23 victory over the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday.

As the scoreline suggests, this was a tightly contested encounter and although the Rebels outscored the Chiefs by three tries to two McKenzie led the way for the men from Hamilton as he finished with a 16-point contribution.

Mckenzie showed again why he is leading the race to be the New Zealand’s first choice fly-half this year with a solid all-round performance and his goal-kicking was particularly impressive and he succeeded with two conversions and four penalties.

The Chiefs‘ other points were scored by All Blacks forwards Tupou Vaa’i and Samisoni Taukei’aho.

Meanwhile, Lachie Anderson (2) and Glen Vaihu crossed the whitewash for the Rebels while Nick Jooste added a conversion and two penalties.

Click here for scorers

The opening exchanges of this Super Rugby Pacific clash were cagey with both sides conservative in their approach during that period but the visitors took the lead via a McKenzie penalty in the fourth minute.

It did not take long for the Rebels to respond as Vaihu dotted down in the left-hand corner after Sam Talakai and Anderson combined brilliantly in the build-up.

Jooste failed with the conversion attempt but midway through the opening half he slotted a penalty which extended the hosts’ lead before Vaa’i scored a converted try in the 23rd minute.

Five minutes later, the All Blacks lock was yellow carded after a clash of heads with Carter Gordon, who was forced off the field due to injury.

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Another Jooste three-pointer off the kicking tee late in the half would boost the Rebels but McKenzie added a penalty of his own just before the interval which meant the Chiefs held a narrow 13-11 lead.

The second half saw started brightly for the Chiefs when Taukei’aho scored his try off the back of a rolling maul before McKenzie added another penalty in the 52nd minute.

Despite trailing by 12 points on the scoreboard, home side did not surrender and took control of proceedings as the match progressed. In the 57th minute, Anderson was put in the clear before rounding off in the right-hand corner although Jooste was off target with the conversion attempt.

It was a similar story in the 74th minute when the Rebels’ inside backs created space for Anderson, who went over for his second try out wide and this time Jooste succeeded off the kicking tee which meant the sides were deadlocked at 23-23.

The Chiefs finished stronger, however, and, after an extended period on attack in the Rebels’ 22, they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts which McKenzie nailed to clinch the win for his side.

The teams

Rebels: 15 Jake Strachan, 14 Lachie Anderson, 13 Filipo Daugunu, 12 Nick Jooste, 11 Glen Vaihu, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 VaioliniI Ekuasi, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Josh Kemeny, 5 Josh Canham, 4 Tuaina Taii Tualima, 3 Sam Talakai (c), 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Isaac Kailea
Replacements: 16 Ethan Dobbins, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Angelo Smith, 20 Maciu Nabolakasi, 21 Rob Leota, 22 Jack Maunder, 23 Lukas Ripley

Chiefs: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Emoni Narawa, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Cortez Ratima, 8 Luke Jacobson (c), 7 Kaylum Boshier, 6 Simon Parker, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 3 George Dyer, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Jared Proffit, 18 Reuben O’Neill, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Wallace Sititi, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Rameka Poihipi

Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Damon Murphy (Australia), George Myers (Australia)
TMO: Oli Kellett (Australia)

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