Chiefs rally to defeat Queensland in preseason

AARON GOILE
Last updated 08:11 09/02/2013
Charlie Ngatai
Getty Images
BUILDING UP: Charlie Ngatai and the Chiefs improved to 2-0 in the preseason, with a 20-8 victory over the Queensland Reds on the Sunshine Coast.

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The Chiefs have made it two from two in their pre-season after the Super Rugby champions knocked over the Reds on the Sunshine Coast last night.

The visitors had to come from behind in a low-scoring contest, before pulling away late to take the match 20-8 at Stockland Stadium.

For the first hour the Chiefs were outdone at scrum time, with Reds tighthead and stand-in captain James Slipper standing out, while at the lineout Rob Simmons made three first half steals.

From the get-go, the hosts were frantic with the ball and made early linebreaks as they played with a very strong wind at their backs.

First five-eighth Mike Harris knocked over a penalty after six minutes to open the scoring, before a driving maul a couple of minutes out from halftime saw openside flanker Liam Gill crash over to extend the lead.

Then on the stroke of the big break, Slipper produced the biggest play of the first half with a huge front-on tackle on Chiefs openside Sam Cane to save a certain try.

Despite the low scoring, both teams were playing enterprising rugby.

It was the Chiefs who struck first in the second spell, with a driving maul beginning a strong movement that finished with exciting young midfielder Bundee Aki - who was introduced off the bench - dotting down under the posts.

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On the 60-minute drinks break, first five-eighth Aaron Cruden slotted a penalty to give the Chiefs the lead for the first time in the match at 10-8.

Cruden showed he'd lost none of his zip from 2012 and combined brilliantly with his backline, while he was also involved in a dust-up with fellow small man Ben Lucas - the Reds' halfback.

As both teams emptied their benches in the final quarter, a number of errors began to creep in.

The Chiefs had two second half tries disallowed, however, they did manage to capitalise on their territorial advantage.

A fumble by Reds front rower Albert Anae sparked a counter-attacking raid which was finished off by halfback Augustine Pulu, while winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma scored in the dying minutes.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie was happy with the character his side showed to come back the way they did.

"It was an average first-half, we made too many errors so we didn't get any continuity, but we dominated the second half which was pleasing," he said.

The Chiefs face the Hurricanes in their final pre-season hit-out next Saturday afternoon in Mangatainoka, while the Reds begin the competition proper when they travel to Canberra to take on the Brumbies.

Chiefs 20 (Bundee Aki, Augustine Pulu, Asaeli Tikoirotuma tries; Aaron Cruden con, pen) Queensland Reds 8 (Liam Gill try; Mike Harris pen)

- Waikato Times

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