Chiefs snatch victory in front of home crowd

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Tim Nanai-Williams scores the Chiefs first try of the match.  Photo by www.sportpix.co.nz
Tim Nanai-Williams scores the Chiefs first try of the match. Photo by www.sportpix.co.nz

In front of the largest opening round Chiefs home crowd, the back-to-back champions beat the Highlanders 21-19, outscoring the visitors three tries to one in front of over 14,000 fans.

The win puts the Chiefs at the top of the New Zealand Conference and makes them the only New Zealand team to have won their first two games.

Chiefs' coach Dave Rennie knows there is plenty to improve on but appreciates the four critical points his side collected.

"It was a pretty poor first half from us. We lacked discipline and coughed up possession through lineouts or running out and found ourselves a fair way behind at half-time.

"But to the boys' credit they dug in during the second half and went through the middle. Our ball security was much better and we were able to build pressure and score from that."

Tries were scored by Tim Nanai-Williams and Liam Messam who crossed the chalk for his 25th Super Rugby try which put the hosts back in the hunt reducing the half time 16-7 deficit to 16-14.

Charlie Ngatai scored the final try which was started by exciting run from new Chiefs debutant Liam Squire. Aaron Cruden placed a chip-kick in the right hand corner which was impressively collected by winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma who passed to Ngatai who crashed over the line.

Chiefs co-captain Aaron Cruden converted all three tries. The first-five said the home crowd was responsible for getting the players over the line and winning the tight match especially in the last ten minutes which had the enthusiastic and vocal fans on the edge of their seats.

Many of the Chiefs players sported freshly shaved heads. The new look was part of a fund raising initiative arranged by Liam Messam for a young cancer patient.

Fans will have their last chance to see their team play live before they head offshore for a month when they take on the Stormers at Waikato Stadium on Friday, March 14 at 7.35pm.

All ticketing is available online at www.ticketdirect.co.nz or by phoning 0800 4 CHIEFS or in person at Gate 1 Waikato Stadium, game week Monday to Friday 8am-6pm and Saturday game day from 9am. For more match day, ticketing and stadium information visit www.Chiefs.co.nz.

- Hamilton News

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