Rugby: Chiefs brush off Reds to remain in charge of NZC

By Kris Shannon

Chiefs 50 Reds 5
Tawera Kerr-Barlow plants a fend on Samu Kerevi of the Reds. Photo / Getty
Tawera Kerr-Barlow plants a fend on Samu Kerevi of the Reds. Photo / Getty

The Chiefs gorged themselves on the entree until they could feast no more. Now comes the main course.

The New Zealand conference leaders tonight easily secured the bonus-point victory they needed to solidify their lofty standing for another week, scoring eight tries to dismantle the over-matched Reds in Brisbane.

Almost everything went right for Dave Rennie's side: their play-makers all enjoyed strong games, their attack looked back to its unstoppable best and they reintroduced the returning Liam Messam for 40 valuable minutes off the bench.

But while the Chiefs were impressive in most areas, particularly during a punishing counter-attacking spell in the first half, it remained to be seen the impact tonight's performance would have on the much more significant challenges that await.

Will romping through the lowly Reds' lacklustre defence aid their ability to do likewise in Dunedin, when another victory may be needed to seal home advantage in the playoffs? And once knockout rugby does arrive, can the credit accrued at Suncorp Stadium be cashed in when pressure is applied?

One thing is for certain, though: based on the degree to which the Reds suffered, no team will want to be at the opposite end of the field waiting to find out.

In racking up their biggest victory of a prolific campaign, the Chiefs' backline showed it had lost none of its verve after a month off, despite Charlie Ngatai still being shrouded in the cloud of concussion.

When the Chiefs are at their most dangerous, as they time and again illustrated while charging to the top of the table in the first half of the season, being without the ball is no impediment to plundering points. As the Reds harshly discovered in the first half tonight, the opposition can soak up possession, control field position, force the Chiefs into a wealth of tackling...and still head to the sheds having shipped five tries.

The Kiwi conference leaders were simply lethal whenever they secured turnover ball, or whenever the Reds ran out of ideas. Incredibly, the first 40 minutes saw the home side actually spend more time than the Chiefs in the opposing 22, a statistic that spoke to the manner of the visitors' raids.

After all, continuity in possession was unnecessary when the defence could be unlocked with such ease, with almost every Chief showing an impeccable awareness of the available space and support play when they found the ball in their hands.

Seta Tamanivalu grabbed a double in the first half, but hooker Nathan Harris and flanker Lachlan Boshier were equally dangerous ball-carriers. Damian McKenzie was as electric as always in open play, breaking a try-scoring drought with a brace in the second spell, but the fullback's line breaks were the rule rather than the exception.

In fairness, the Reds did provide their opponents a helping hand. They slipped off tackles with the type of frequency that would be expected of a 15th-placed side, and two acts of foul play produced a penalty try and back-to-back yellow cards midway through the half.

But the Chiefs hardly needed the assist. Sixteen defenders would have struggled to restrict some of their offloading. Next week in Dunedin it will be the job of the Highlanders, and the defending champions appear to have their work cut out for them.

Chiefs 50 (Tamanivalu 2, Moli, Cane, McKenzie 2, Harris tries, penalty try; McKenzie 5 cons)
Reds 5 (Kuridrani try)
Halftime: 33-5

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 28 Sep 2016 21:14:15 Processing Time: 616ms