Chiefs beat Highlanders in Queenstown




The Chiefs picked up a 26-23 win in their last Super Rugby game against the Highlanders (April 2021), snapping a five-game winless run against them in the process (D1, L4). They have not, however, won when hosting the Landers since Round 7, 2018 (27-22).

The Highlanders have won five of their last six away games against the Chiefs in Super Rugby (L1), including their last three on the bounce – their longest ever winning streak on the road against the men from the Waikato.

  • Clayton McMillan’s side has won nine of their last 12 games in Super Rugby (L3), including their last two on the bounce; they will be aiming to open a second consecutive Super Rugby season with a victory for the first time since 2017, following their 20-19 win against the Western Force to begin the 2021 Trans-Tasman campaign.
  • Tony Brown’s men succumbed to a 23-15 loss in their last Super Rugby game (v Blues in the 2021 Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final) and will now look to avoid consecutive defeats for the first time since March 2021.
  • The Otago franchise has won only three of their last 14 Super Rugby games away from home against fellow New Zealand opposition (L11); however, two of their three wins in that period came against the Chiefs on the day (also W 33-12 v Crusaders, Round 6 2021, Super Rugby Aotearoa).
  • The Chiefs made 10 offloads per game in Super Rugby competitions in 2021, the most by any team and three per game more than the Highlanders (7).
  • The Landers had a 91% accuracy on their lineout throws in Super Rugby competitions in 2021, the second-best rate of any team (Crusaders – 94%); the Chiefs (82%) were ranked last in this category.
  • The Chiefs were the only team not to score a try directly from a kick in Super Rugby competitions in 2021; the Highlanders (1) were one of three teams to score just a single try via this method (also Melbourne Rebels and NSW Waratahs).

Players to watch

  • Aaron Smith provided 11 assists in Super Rugby competitions in 2021, the most by any player (four more than any Chiefs player last year).
  • Tupou Vaa’i made three try saver tackles in Super Rugby competitions in 2021; only one player made more in Super Rugby last year (Irae Simone – 4).

Match detail

We are waiting for the kick-off.

In the meantime, why not have a look at the match preview.

1.00: PEEEEP! We are underway in Wakatipu, Queenstown.

3.00: The sun is out after a cloudy day with showers. The backdrop is stunning with the mountains overlooking the Wakatipu Rugby Club.

6.00: PENALTY! Josh Ioane – on debut – opens the scoring from in front. 3-0

9.00: Highlanders earn a kickable penalty next to the posts after a Chiefs’ ruck infringement.

11.00: PENALTY! Mitch Hunt levels. 3-3

14.00: Another chance for three points after the Chiefs slow the ball down illegally.

15.00: PENALTY! Hunt makes no mistake, Landers lead. 3-6

17.00: TRY! Sam Cane scores his 16th Super Rugby try under the posts after a scrum outside the opposition’s 22. Xavier Roe made the break before Alex Nankivell’s inside pass put Cane away. 8-6

18.00: CONVERSION! Ioane adds the extras. 10-6

21.00: Highlanders look to clear their lines, but Aaron Smith’s up-and-under is recovered by the Chiefs, who counter-attack down the left touchline. Emoni Narawa knocks on with an overlap to give the Landers a reprieve.

23.00: Chiefs have dominated territory and possession almost two to one in the opening passage, while making two line breaks to none, gaining more metres and carries.

27.00: Tony Brown’s charges have been under the pump, spending most of the last 10 minutes inside their 22. Finally, after several defensive phases, the Landers earn a couple of penalties to set up an attacking lineout inside the Chiefs’ 22.

30.00: Brown’s men lost the lineout before winning back possession only to lose the ball forward near the try line. The Chiefs win a relieving penalty.

31.00: Manaaki Selby-Rickit gives away a kickable penalty just outside his 22 and in front of the posts.

32.00: PENALTY! Ioane makes no mistake. 13-6

34.00: The turnovers, breakdown penalties, and poor handling is killing the Highlanders.

37.00: A lot of handling errors by both teams leading to scrums. The lineouts have been iffy as well. Sam Gilbert gives away another needless penalty, which allows Ioane to kick to the corner.

39.00: Obstruction by Jermaine Ainsley means the Chiefs opt for an attacking scrum in the corner. Interesting.

40.00: TRY! Pita Gus Sowakula breaks down the blindside and scores in the corner. The Highlanders’ scrum collapsed meaning Shannon Frizell could not get to the big No. 8. Aaron Smith could not get around either. 18-6

41.00: MISS! The kick is wide. 18-6

The halftime score was Chiefs 18 Highlanders 6

41.00: PEEEEP! We are back underway in New Zealand.

43.00: Josh Dickson’s mistake allows the Chiefs to clear.

45.00: PENALTY! Hunt lands his third goal. 18-9

48.00: TRY! Emoni Narawa – on debut – finishes off a sublime attacking play to increase the lead for the Chiefs. Stevenson, Sowakula, and Cane combined down the right-hand side before the ball got shifted wide Narawa. The fullback played a one-two switch move with Brodie Retallick to create the overlap and space to score in the corner. 23-9

49.00: MISS! The kick is unsuccessful. 23-9

54.00: A lot of scrums and lineouts as the errors mount. Landers look lackluster, to say the least.

58.00: Chiefs under pressure inside the 22, but Highlanders pass into touch.

60.00: Landers think they’ve scored, but referee calls them back for a scrum, which is lost as the chiefs win the penalty.

64.00: Both teams botch try-scoring opportunities.

66.00: NO TRY! James Lentjes thought he scored his sixth Super Rugby try after a slick move involving Hunt, Fetuli Paea, and Liam Coltman. However, the TMO looked at the replay and the try is chalked off. 23-9

69.00: TRY! Daniel Lienert-Brown crashes over. 23-14

70.00: CONVERSION! Hunt makes no mistake. 23-16

75.00: A 17-phase attack ends with the Chiefs getting a kickable penalty in front of the posts inside the opposition’s 22.

76.00: PENALTY! Bryn Gatland makes it a 10-point ball game. 26-16

80.00: Atu Moli left the field injured, the Highlanders tried one more attack searching for the bonus point, but another knock-on ended the tie. Game over!


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The final score is Chiefs 26 (18) Highlanders 16 (6)


Tries – Cane, Sowakula, Narawa
Pen – J. Ioane (2), Gatland
Con – J. Ioane
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – D. Lienert-Brown
Pen – Hunt (3)
Con – Hunt
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 1: Angus Mabey
Assistant Ref 2: Marcus Playle
TMO: Chris Hart



15 Emoni Narawa, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Alex Nankivell, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Jonah Lowe, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Xavier Roe, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Laghlan McWhannell, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Ollie Norris

Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Atu Moli, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Kaylum Boshier, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Chase Tiatia


15 Sam Gilbert, 14 Mosese Dawai, 13 Fetuli Paea, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Josh Timu, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith (captain), 8 Gareth Evans, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ethan de Groot

16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Bryn Evans, 20 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 21 Folau Fakatava 22 Marty Banks, 23 Thomas Umaga-Jensen

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