Rugby: Chiefs survive stampeding Bulls

The Chiefs have done it again.

After sneaking past the Blues in their previous Super Rugby match, the side pulled another rabbit out of the hat to claim a flattering win against a stampeding Bulls side 41-28 in Hamilton on Friday night.

The Bulls arrived to 12,451 loud fans at FMG Stadium with what seemed like one attacking plan in mind – go left.

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It was a fruitful tactic for the visitors, whether it was planned or not, as they ran in four first-half tries through their left edge to dominate the opening 40.

Showing they‘re a different team to the Bulls of old, their aggressive, expansive style of play stretched the Chiefs in the opening period. The hosts didn‘t make life easy on themselves, though, with a 9-2 penalty count against them doled out in the first half alone by referee Shuhei Kubo.

The Bulls signalled their intentions with their options from penalties – constantly turning down a shot at the sticks from close range to find touch and look to add at least five to the score.

The Chiefs started well and almost struck immediately through fullback Damian McKenzie who found himself with room to move on the left edge before ultimately being dragged into touch.

The 12-test All Black soon put his side under pressure when an attempted chip kick to the wing sailed into touch on the full, giving the Bulls possessions inside the hosts‘ half.

They didn‘t waste it, as fullback Warrick Gelant found a hole on the left and opened the scoring.

The Chiefs levelled the scores at seven about five minutes later when Johnny Fa‘auli crashed over from close range after some scrappy work around the ruck.

However, the hosts found themselves two converted tries down before long with Bulls winger having his way on the left to bag a double before the half.

With less than 10 minutes in the half, Brodie Retallick looked to have snatched the momentum for the Chiefs when he bulldozed over from within a metre of the line, but the Bulls hit right back – again attacking through their left edge – as Handre Pollard got his name among the try scorers.

With the halftime deficit at 14, the Chiefs needed to be the first to strike, and they were as Mitchell Brown crossed the line. The extras from McKenzie made it a seven-point game with plenty of time in hand.

Retallick took it upon himself to bring the game level. The big lock popped up on the left edge for the Chiefs, sold a dummy and ran in for his second five-pointer. However, McKenzie couldn‘t add the extras, and the hosts still trailled.

Until the 62nd minute, not penalty attempts had been kicked and the match looked on track to go into unprecedented territory. McKenzie put a stop to that notion, however, edging the Chiefs in front with the boot from 40m out.

Behind for the first time in the match, the Bulls also went a man down when reserve prop Conraad van Vuuren was sent to the bin for a high shot on McKenzie.

With the advantage, the Chiefs ran in another try through Solomon Alaimalo to seal the win, with Anton Lienert-Brown adding one after the hooter for good measure.

Chiefs 41 (Brodie Retallick 2, Johnny Fa‘auli, Mitchell Brown, Solomon Alaimalo, Anton Lienert-Brown tries; Damian McKenzie 4 con, pen)
Bulls 28 (Divan Rossouw 2, Warrick Gelant, Handre Pollard tries; Pollard 4 con)
HT: 14-28

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