Super Rugby

Tiatia inspires Chiefs to thrilling win over Hurricanes

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The Chiefs upset the Hurricanes 29-35 in an entertaining Super Rugby Aotearoa Round Four clash at Sky Stadium, Wellington.

Chase Tiatia came off the bench to inspire the Chiefs to fight back from 26-7 at halftime to win a nine-try thriller. The come-back win ended an 11-game Super Rugby losing streak for the men from the Waikato.

The stunning turnaround gives Clayton McMillan –– and his team –– a first-ever Super Rugby Aotearoa win.

Damian McKenzie and Tiatia combined to pull their team out of a halftime mire and mount one of the great comebacks in tournament history.


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The Hamilton men trailed by 19 points at the break, but they outscored their opponents 28-3 after the interval, scoring four converted tries in 19 crazy minutes at the Cake Tin.

Jordie Barrett’s late penalty was all his side could muster. This sobering display will haunt the Hurricanes, an ignominious loss from a position of strength, especially against a winless side down by three scores.  Yikes!

Kaleb Trask’s 13th-minute converted try was all the visitors had to show in a one-sided first stanza dominated by the hosts.

Luke Campbell, Ricky Riccitelli, and a brace by Salesi Rayasi looked to have won the game for Jason Holland’s men; instead, a second-half rally by the McMillan’s side brought the Canes to their knees.

Tiatia inspiration turns the game in favour of the beleaguered Waikato men

Tiatia replaced Trask in the 52nd-minute and the 25-year-old made an instant impact, scoring a try and setting up Brad Weber’s five-pointer inside two minutes to make it 26-21 on the hour.

Naitoa Ah Kuoi crashed over on 66 minutes –– the Chiefs‘ third score in 10 breathtaking minutes –– to level. McKenzie’s fourth conversion edged the visitors ahead.

However, a long-range 74th-minute Jordie Barrett penalty put the Hurricanes one-point ahead. But a minute later, a botched restart saw Ah Kuoi set-up Luke Jacobson for the match-winner.

Cue scenes of emotion from the visitors.

Four first-half tries put Hurricanes in a strong position as Chiefs struggle

The home team dominated the first 40 minutes, while the visitors struggled with their discipline, especially at the breakdown or when inside the opposition’s 22.

The penalties killed all their momentum, and the Canes made them pay.

Jordie Barrett joined the fray at first receiver throughout the game. The second time the fullback touched the ball during the attack, he broke the line.

Barrett slipped Anton Lienert-Brown’s tackle and raced from midfield to the 22. He sucked-in McKenzie before sending Luke Campbell away.

Barrett converted, but the Chiefs hit back immediately through Trask after taking Samisoni Taukei’aho’s sublime offload to score under the sticks. Taukei’aho’s midfield break and run was something out of the backline playbook.

McKenzie levelled from in front; however, things took a turn for the worse, three minutes later, when Riccitelli scampered down the touchline.

Super Rugby Aotearoa Round 4 Video Highlights: Hurricanes vs Chiefs at Sky Stadium, Wellington

The hooker, who has a superb night in an all-round game to remember, shook off Trask and McKenzie’s weak tackles to dot down in the corner.

Riccitelli’s try came from quick-ball at the breakdown, and Ngani Laumape’s deft-timed run and pass, from a switch in midfield, sucked in the defenders to open the space.

Everything good for the Canes came through Laumape and the 26-year-old hooker. Luamape ran for 65 metres on nine carries with one clean-break, two offloads, while setting up two tries.

The 27-year-old centre also made 11 tackles in the game, stopping everything thrown his way.

Early in the second quarter, Holland’s men had a third. A mistake from Trask, who dropped a high ball, led to a Rayasi try in the corner.

McKenzie could not clean up the rolling ball, the ball was turned over by Julian Savea. Ardie Savea set-up the next phase before Laumape, who saw Rayasi alone on the sideline, kicked a crossfield kick to the winger.

Rayasi caught the ball, stood strong in the tackle, and powered over the line. Barrett found his radar, making it 19-7. Three minutes before the interval, the winger had his second.

The Chiefs had their chances, but continued to squander them with poor handling and ill-discipline; however, in hindsight, this was a warning sign for their opposition.

The try came from a nine-phase attack near the opposition’s goal line. The 24-year-old stepped off his wing, collected the ball, and dances through some weak tackling to bring up the bonus-point try.

Barrett added the extras to give the hosts a commanding 19-point advantage going into the shed.

Brad Weber should have scored, but the scrumhalf got held-up over the line following a 15-phase attack after the hooter.

Chiefs begin where they left off, this time taking their chances after Tiatia brings the magic

McKenzie had a try chalked off for being off his feet, four minutes after the restart. This was just the beginning.

On 57 minutes, a sustained attack ended with Tiatia burning the defenders to score his side’s second. Two minutes later, we had a contest.

McKenzie started the attack from deep in his half. He gathered a high ball, spun out of a tackle before sending Tiatia through the middle.

Tiatia’s burst from midfield saw him beat the tackles, race to the 22, swerve more defenders before offloading out the back door to Samipeni Finau.

Finau drew two defenders and put Weber, on the inside, and away to score. Stunning.

McKenzie’s third conversion made it a four-point ball-game going into the final quarter.

The momentum had shifted, the Hurricanes were in disarray as Holland’s charges increased the intensity of their attacks.

A series of penalties led to Sam Cane opting to kick to the corner and go to his driving maul. The decision worked a treat as Ah Kuoi reached for the chalk to level.

McKenzie’s 68th-minute conversion gave his side the lead for the first time. Jordie Barrett missed a penalty soon afterwards, but the fullback made up for his miss with a 54-metre monster, with less than seven minutes remaining, to give his side a 29-28 lead.

The short-lived joy soon turned to despair as Jacobson broke home-town hearts.

Final Score: Hurricanes 29 (26) Chiefs 35 (7)

Scorers

Hurricanes
Tries – Campbell, Riccitelli, Rayasi (2)
Pen – J. Barrett
Con – J. Barrett (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Chiefs
Tries – Trask, Tiatia, Weber, Ah Kuoi, Jacobson
Pen –
Con – McKenzie (5)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 2: James Doleman
TMO: Glen Newman

Teams

Hurricanes

15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Orbyn Leger, 9 Luke Campbell, 8 Ardie Savea (captain), 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Xavier Numia

Replacements:
16 James O’Reilly, 17 Fraser Armstrong, 18 Tevita Mafileo, 19 Liam Mitchell, 20 Devan Flanders, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23 Wes Goosen

Chiefs

15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Jonah Lowe, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Kaleb Trask, 9 Brad Weber (co-captain), 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Tupou Vaa’i, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross

Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Joe Apikotoa, 19 Samipeni Finau, 20 Simon Parker, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Alex Nankivell, 23 Chase Tiatia

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