Chiefs 20 Force 19
A 14-man Chiefs side held off a late run by the Western Force to complete a New Zealand sweep over their Aussie counterparts in the opening round of Sky Super Rugby Transtasman.
The Chiefs held a comfortable 20-7 lead when Luke Jacobson was sent off for a second yellow card offence in the 66th minute. The home side quickly responded with a try to former Chief and All Black Richard Kahui to close the gap to six setting up a thrilling final 10 minutes.
The game looked sewn up as the Chiefs had possession on their own five metre line with five seconds to play only to knock it on and give the Force a chance to steal the match. Argentinian substitute Domingo Miotti then broke the line to score moments later in injury time to make it a one-point game.
Miotti lined up the game-winning conversion attempt out wide, six metres from the sideline, only to kick it across the face of the goalposts as the running Chiefs attempted to charge it down.
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It was a fortunate escape for the Chiefs who spent nearly 10 minutes with 13 men when both Anton Lienert-Brown and Jacobson were yellow-carded within a minute of each other just before halftime.
Jacobson's offence also led to a penalty try, making it a double hit for the Chiefs. Despite the two-man disadvantage, Damian McKenzie, who set up the opening try for Alex Nankivell, kicked a penalty to take a 10-7 into the break.
With ill-discipline and poor handling letting them down, it wasn't the greatest effort by the Chiefs who flew to Perth after losing the Super Rugby Aotearoa final last Saturday.
It probably seemed fitting the Chiefs were saved by a missed conversion at the end with McKenzie also having an off night from the tee, with three unsuccessful attempts keeping the Force close enough to give them a chance for victory.
The Force, only the second Aussie team to earn a losing bonus point, host the Highlanders in their only other home game next Friday before finishing with a three-game road trip.
Chiefs 20 (Alex Nankivell, Nathan Harris, Jonah Lowe tries, Damian McKenzie pen, con.)
Force 19 (Penalty try, Richard Kahui, Domingo Miotti tries, Miotti con.)