April 21, 2023
The Hamilton-based Chiefs have showcased their handling skills in teeming rain to beat the Fijian Drua 50-17 and stretch their winning start in Super Rugby Pacific to eight games.
The Chiefs scored their first try after only three minutes and added another four to lead 31-12 by halftime.
Seven tries were scored in a fast-paced first half despite the constant rain and a slippery field.
The rain abated in the second half and the flow of tries also slowed.
The Drua began the half with a length-of-the-field try to cut the Chiefs' lead to 31-17. Almost 25 minutes elapsed before the Chiefs were able to add to their tally of tries and re-establish a bonus point advantage.
In the interim, they had been forced by the Drua defence to kick for goal - unsuccessfully.
Fullback Damian McKenzie had a poor night off the tee but scored a try and kicked five conversions for 15 points, becoming the leading point-scorer for the season with 86.
The Chiefs stretched their lead with three tries in the last 10 minutes, two going to All Blacks locks Brodie Retallick and Tupou Vaa'i and the last to winger Etene Nanai-Seturo just after the fulltime siren.
"It's definitely satisfying (to win eight from eight)," Retallick said. "There were plenty of good tries. It was a bit messy at times but we're proud of that effort tonight.
"It just shows the skill level and belief the boys are playing with at the moment. At times we might have kicked to put a bit more pressure on the Drua but there was some outstanding work, especially by the outside backs."
Scrumhalf Cortez Ratima scored the Chiefs' opening try, going alone from an attacking breakdown, and winger Shaun Stevenson added the next to remain the leading try-scorer of the season with nine.
CHIEFS 50 (TRIES: Ratima, Stevenson, Boshier, McKenzie, Taukei'aho, Retallick, Vaa'i, Nanai-Seturo CONS: McKenzie 5/8)
DRUA 17 (TRIES: Canakaivata, Naitokani, Droasese CONS: Tela 1/2)
CHIEFS (1-15): Aidan Ross, Samisoni Taukei'aho, John Ryan, Brodie Retallick (c), Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Samipeni Finau, Kaylum Boshier, Pita Gus Sowakula, Cortez Ratima, Bryn Gatland, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Rameka Poihipi, Daniel Rona, Shaun Stevenson, Damian McKenzie
RESERVES: Tyrone Thompson, Jared Profitt, Solomone Tukuafu, Josh Lord, Tupou Vaa'i, Simon Parker, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Gideon Wrampling
DRUA (1-15): Haereiti Hetet, Tevita Ikanivere (c), Samuela Tawake, Isoa Nasilasila, Leone Rotuisolia, Joseva Tamani, Elia Canakaivata, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Peni Matawalu, Teti Tela, Tuidraki Samusamuvodre, Michael Naitokani, Apisalome Vota, Ilaisa Droasese, Selestino Ravutaumada
RESERVES: Mesulame Dolokoto, Livai Natave, Jone Tiko, Chris Minimbi, Rusiate Masove, Leone Nawai, Kailione Nasoko, Kitione Taliga
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Referees: James Doleman, Marcus Playle