Rugby: Inspired Chiefs win Brisbane Tens

By Niall Anderson

An inspired Chiefs side have dedicated their Brisbane Global Tens triumph to the memory of former All Blacks and Chiefs loose forward Sione Lauaki.

Lauaki's death overnight impacted heavily on the Chiefs, who he played 70 times for, with the franchise harnessing their emotion to pay tribute to their fallen teammate on the field.

They won all four games today in the blistering Brisbane heat to charge to the title, toppling the Crusaders 12-5 in the final.

At the heart of their success was captain Liam Messam, a good friend of Lauaki's who played in his honour.

Messam was given permission to fly home immediately after their scheduled quarter-final against the Queensland Reds, but decided to play on, and led the Chiefs to the title.

"There's a number of guys who played a lot of footy with Wax [Lauaki]," Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said.

"Liam Messam, in particular, is a great mate of his so it's been a pretty upsetting morning.

"We gave Liam the opportunity not to play and head home straight away but he was determined to go out and put out a performance for Wax."

"We lost a brother today but we just kept on fighting and did what we had to do," said Messam.

A minute's silence for Lauaki was held before the Chiefs' pool game against the Wild Knights, with some Chiefs players in tears pre-match.

That game, won 33-5 by the Chiefs, started their excellent run of results, edging the Reds 12-10 in the quarterfinal and overwhelming the Bulls 26-14 in the semifinal.

They needed a comeback in the final, after going behind early in the piece.

Despite the free-flowing nature of the event, the Crusaders' opening try in the final came from a traditional source, with a five-metre lineout leading to a lineout drive which saw hooker Andrew Makalio dive over.

The Chiefs suffered injury blows which could impact their Super Rugby season when livewire halfback Brad Weber and prop Mitchell Graham were both stretched off with serious leg injuries.

After those two lengthy stoppages, the result seemed less important, but Luke Jacobson pounced on a Crusaders error to score a runaway try just before halftime, with the conversion giving the Chiefs a 7-5 lead into the interval.

Crusaders forward Jed Brown was sent to the sinbin early in the second half after infringing at a ruck, and the Chiefs took advantage, with tournament MVP Shaun Stevenson showing sublime footwork to set up Taleni Seu to dot down out wide - a try that would seal the victory.

The tournament was dominated by New Zealand sides, with three sides making the semifinals.

The Highlanders were knocked out in the quarterfinals by the Hurricanes, who in turn fell to the Crusaders in the semifinals, and lost crucial forward Vaea Fifita to a leg injury along the way.

Early reports out of the Hurricanes camp suggest Fifita had broken his leg. ​

Earlier today:

Crusaders 14 Hurricanes 7

The Crusaders and Chiefs will play off for the inaugural Brisbane Tens title after the red and blacks ended the Hurricanes' hopes in the semifinals.

The Crusaders took a lead late in the first half through Quinten Strange and things soon went from bad to worse for the Hurricanes, who saw Vaea Fifita stretchered off with an apparent ankle injury.

Bryn Hall scored his side's second after the break to make it 14-0, before Jordie Barrett set up a grandstand finish with a brilliant chip-and-chase try. But a drop kick penalty from Mitchell Hunt sealed the result and set up an all-Kiwi final at 8.40pm.

Chiefs 26 Bulls 14

An inspired Chiefs team have reached the inaugural final of the Brisbane Tens, beating the Bulls 26-14 to continue an emotionally-charged day.

After the death of 70-cap former Chief Sione Lauaki, Dave Rennie's men have marched to the tournament showpiece with three wins from three today, proving too fast and skilful for the Bulls in the semifinal.

The Chiefs booked their place in the final on the strength of an incredible first half, racing to a 21-0 lead through converted tries from Shaun Stevenson, a penalty try and Solomon Alaimalo.

The Bulls pulled one back after the break but Alaimalo's second essentially sealed the result, leaving the Chiefs to play either the Crusaders or Hurricanes in the final.

Hurricanes 7 Highlanders 5

A sideline conversion from Jordie Barrett has lifted the Hurricanes past the Highlanders and into the semifinals of the Brisbane Tens.

An untidy first half finished with Adrian Smith putting the Highlanders ahead 5-0 at the break, a lead the southern side looked set to hang onto in the second half.

But after Josh Renton was sin-binned for the Highlanders, Ricky Riccitelli crossed in the corner to level the game late and set the stage for Barrett. And the youngster, heading into his maiden Super Rugby season, made no mistake from the right-hand sideline.

Earlier, the Bulls completed an impressive comeback to beat the Force 19-12 and reach the semifinals, setting up a clash with the Chiefs.

Semifinal draw:
Chiefs v Bulls, 6.31pm
Crusaders v Hurricanes, 6.57pm

Crusaders 12 Wild Knights 7

The Crusaders have won their fourth straight game at the Brisbane Tens to become the second team to reach the semifinals.

George Bridge crossed first for the Crusaders and, after Tim Bateman was held up over the line, Seta Tamanivalu continued his strong tournament to make it 12-0 at halftime.

A sloppy second half and a yellow card to Tamanivalu saw the Crusaders fail to put away the game, but the Wild Knights left their run too late and scored a consolation try right on fulltime.

The Crusaders will meet the winner of Hurricanes-Highlanders in an all-Kiwi semifinal.

Chiefs 12 Reds 10

The Chiefs have become the first side to book a semifinal spot at the Brisbane Tens, edging the Reds 12-10 in the first quarter-final.

After Savu Kerevi opened the scoring for the Reds at Suncorp Stadium, a long-range try from Shaun Stevenson appeared to leave the game locked at 5-5 at halftime, before Kerevi grabbed his second after the hooter had sounded.

But the conversion attempt again missed and, after the Reds had two men yellow-carded in the second half, Stevenson completed his brace with a try under the posts to make it 12-10.

The Chiefs will now play the winner of Bulls-Force in the semifinals.

Bulls 26 Highlanders 17

The Highlanders have sneaked into the quarter-finals of the Brisbane Tens after being pipped by the Bulls in the last action from pool play.

The Highlanders led 17-5 at halftime after Jason Emery and Gareth Evans crossed early before Matt Faddes went over right on the hooter. But the Bulls scored 21 unanswered points in the second spell to book their own quarter-final berth.

Thankfully for the Highlanders, they held a superior points differential to the Brumbies and advanced to the knockout stages alongside the Chiefs, Crusaders and Hurricanes.

Quarter-final draw:
Chiefs v Reds, 3.48pm
Crusaders v Wild Knights, 4.22pm
Bulls v Force 4.56pm
Hurricanes v Highlanders 5.30pm

Hurricanes 32 Toulon 0

The Hurricanes have thrashed Toulon 32-0 at the Brisbane Global Tens, running in six tries to book their spot in the quarter-finals.

In 37 degree heat that saw Beauden Barrett running water for both teams, the Hurricanes raced to a 15-0 halftime lead through tries from Nehe Milner-Skudder, Jonah Lowe and Vince Aso.

That second half was similarly one-way traffic as Tiaan Falcon and Asafo Aumua crossed before Lowe grabbed his second to complete the rout and see the Hurricanes progress with an unbeaten record.

Meanwhile, Tens ambassador Jerome Kaino has flown home to New Zealand after learning the sad news of Sione Lauaki's death.

Crusaders 17 Blues 12

The Crusaders have maintained a perfect record at the Brisbane Global Tens after seeing off the Blues 17-12 at Suncorp Stadium this afternoon.

The Crusaders, who have probably been the most impressive side at the tournament so far, crossed for the game's first try through George Bridge before taking control of the match when Sione Fifita scored his side's second.

Manasa Mataele soon grabbed the Crusaders' third try as the red and blacks looked to waltz home, but two late tries for the Blues set up a nervy finish.

Chiefs 33 Wild Knights 5

The Chiefs have observed a moment's silence for their fallen brother and then romped home over Panasonic Wild Knights to progress to the Brisbane Global Tens quarter-finals.

Saddened by the passing of former Chief and All Black Sione Lauaki, the Waikato-based Super Rugby franchise seemed to harness that emotion to run away 33-5 over the previously unbeaten Japanese club.

The Chiefs recorded tries to Nanai-Williams, Seu, Webber, Jacobson and Alaimalo, with four conversions to top their pool with a two-win, one-loss record.

- NZ Herald

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