March 24, 2023
The unbeaten, table-topping Chiefs have heaped more pain on the NSW Waratahs with an uninspiring 24-14 Super Rugby Pacific victory in Sydney.
Wallabies coach Eddie Jones was on hand to witness an error-riddled match on Friday night that only briefly came to life during a frenetic period in the second half.
Jones earlier on Friday admitted he hadn't been impressed with much from Australia's five Super Rugby sides so far this season and he might have been forgiven for wondering what he'd got himself into after the Waratahs' lacklustre showing.
Darren Coleman's injury-hit outfit were resolute in defence but butter-fingered and clunky in attack despite the best efforts of their faithful fans at Allianz Stadium to lift the Tahs to a desperately needed win.
Alas, the Waratahs slumped to a fourth defeat from five outings.
A runaway 40-metre intercept try to skipper Jake Gordon in the 17th minute offset a soft early cross from Chiefs five-eighth Bryn Gatland and looked to be the energising jolt the Waratahs needed.
The Chiefs mounted attack after attack but the Tahs produced a heroic defensive effort to keep the competition leaders at bay.
The Chiefs resorted to a penalty shot from near halfway, so desperate were they to convert their territorial dominance into points.
But Damian McKenzie's long-range effort wasn't even close as the Tahs went to the break somehow level at 7-7.
McKenzie eventually slotted a 45-metre shot to break the deadlock after halftime before Chiefs winger Emoni Narawa sent the visitors out to a 17-7 lead with a 54th-minute try.
Michael Hooper, in his milestone 133rd Super Rugby game, making the champion flanker the most-capped Waratahs back-rower ever, gave his side hope when he finished off a driving maul try on the hour.
But Narawa's second try five minutes from fulltime sealed victory for the Chiefs and left the Waratahs empty-handed without even a bonus point.
Coleman and co travel to Canberra next Saturday to face the Brumbies in what seems an early must-win encounter for last year's struggling quarter-finalists.
CHIEFS 24 (TRIES: Gatland, Narawa 2 CONS: McKenzie 2/2 PENS: McKenzie 1/2)
WARATAHS 14 (TRIES: Gordon, Hooper CONS: Donaldson 2/2)
WARATAHS (1-15): Te Tera Faulkner, Mahe Vailanu, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Jed Holloway, Ned Hanigan, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Hooper, Will Harris, Jake Gordon (c), Ben Donaldson, Dylan Pietsch, Joey Walton, Izaia Perese, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Ben Dowling
RESERVES: Tolu Latu, Tom Lambert, Dan Botha, Taleni Seu, Zac Von Appen, Harrison Goddard, Harry Wilson, Nemani Nadolo
CHIEFS (1-15): Aidan Ross, Bradley Slater, John Ryan, Brodie Retallick, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Samipeni Finau, Same Cane (co-c), Pita Gus Sowakula, Brad Weber (co-c), Bryn Gatland, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Rameka Poihipi, Alex Nankivell, Emoni Narawa, Damian McKenzie
RESERVES: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Ollie Norris, George Dyer, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Kaylum Boshier, Cortez Ratima, Daniel Rona, Shaun Stevenson
Referee: Jordan Way
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner, Matt Kellahan