The Chiefs opened their 2017 Super Rugby campaign with a deserved 15-24 bonus-point win over the Highlanders in Dunedin.
The Chiefs scored three tries to nil, keeping the home team to penalties.
James Lowe scored a first half brace and Aaron Cruden kicked 11 points as the Chiefs made the most of their opportunities. The visitors led by five points going into the break.
Lowe’s first try as Malakai Fekitoa tried to pass the ball down the line but the ball went to ground and was then intecepted by Lowe after Aaron Smith had regained the ball.
Waisake Naholo then gifted Lowe his second as he sent the ball straight to the winger who went on to dot the ball down.
Hooker Hika Elliot scored a well-worked try from a line-out set-piece in the second half to add to the Highlanders woes.
Lima Sapoaga kicked five penalty goals but it was not enough and the home side were kept tryless.
The Highlanders gifted the visitors soft tries and despite having most of the possession and territory, they could not make it count.
Victory for the Chiefs ended a six match losing streak for the Waikato men against the Highlanders.
Next week the Chiefs are at home in Hamilton where they will host the Blues while the Highlanders stay in Dunedin and host the Crusaders.
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The full time score is Highlanders 15 (9) Chiefs 24 (14)
Pen – Sopoaga (5)
Tries – Lowe (2), Elliot
Pen – Cruden
Con – Cruden (3)
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 1:Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 2:Jamie Nutbrown
TMO : Aaron Paterson
1.Daniel Lienert-Brown ,2.Liam Coltman, 3.Siate Tokolahi (Debut game),4.Alex Ainley,5.Tom Franklin,6.Gareth Evans,7.James Lentjes,8.Liam Squire,9.Aaron Smith,10.James Lowe,11.Tevita Li (Debut game),12.Rob Thompson,13.Malakai Fekitoa,14.Waisake Naholo,15.Ben Smith (C)
Replacements :16.Adrian Smith (Debut game), 17.Craig Millar,18.Guy Millar (Debut game),19.Jackson Hemopo, 20.Elliot Dixon,21.Kayne Hammington (Debut game),22.Fletcher Smith,23.Matt Faddes
1. Kane Hames (9),2.Hika Elliot (104),3. Nepo Laulala*,4. Dominic Bird (11),5. Brodie Retallick (71),6. Taleni Seu (18),7. Mitchell Karpik**,8. Liam Messam (146),9.Siate Tokolahi (67),10. Aaron Cruden (captain) (73),11. James Lowe (37),12. Johnny Faauli**,13. Anton Lienert-Brown (24),14. Toni Pulu (13),15. Damian McKenzie (33)
Replacements : 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho**,17. Siegfried Fisi’ihoi (11),18. Atu Moli (11),19. Mitchell Brown (3), 20. Lachlan Boshier (8) ,21. Jonathan Taumateine**, 22. Tim Nanai-Williams (77) ,23. Shaun Stevenson (7)