Chiefs' Retallick in doubt for Crusaders contest
The Chiefs could be sweating this week over the fitness of All Black lock Brodie Retallick for his Super Rugby showdown with test team-mate Sam Whitelock.
Retallick captained the Chiefs for the first time in Saturday's scratchy 22-16 win over the Melbourne Rebels but left the field with a head knock late in the second half and was unable to return after failing a concussion test.
The 22-year-old could be in doubt for Saturday's crucial New Zealand conference derby with the Crusaders in Hamilton if he does not make a full recovery this week.
That would be a major blow because Retallick seems to relish his duels with the Crusaders, who boast three All Black locks in Whitelock, Dominic Bird and the injured Luke Romano.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said Retallick did not remember much about the head knock, but seemed OK after the match.
Retallick did not front for the post-match press conference - flanker Tanerau Latimer filled in. Rennie said they had decided to leave the big lock to recover in the cold pool in the Chiefs' changing room.
But Retallick couldn't have wished for a better start as Chiefs' skipper with the two-time champions rattling on 16 points in as many minutes against the Rebels.
However, after scoring 21 tries in their previous six games, the Chiefs could only manage one on their return to Hamilton - to Retallick's locking partner Michael Fitzgerald.
But the Rebels, who trailed 19-6 at halftime, were unlucky not to snatch a win after a strong second half surge, capped by a try to Japanese hooker Shota Horie.
Rennie would have been relieved to snap a three-game winless streak - the longest of his tenure - after a road trip defeat to the Western Force in Perth and back-to-back draws in South Africa.
Gareth Anscombe, deputising at first five-eighth for injured All Black Aaron Cruden, scored 19 points for the Chiefs in a polished all-round display.
He'll go head to head on Saturday with former All Black pivot Colin Slade, who had a strong game in the Crusaders' six-try 52-31 victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein yesterday.
The Crusaders had been criticised for a lack of attack in the early rounds, but, with Slade running the cutter at No 10, the seven-time champions have scored nine tries in a two-game winning streak in South Africa - all of them by backs.
Fijian-born wing Nemani Nadolo led the scoring spree against the Cheetahs with three tries as the Crusaders became the first foreign team to win two games in South Africa this season.
The Chiefs lead the New Zealand conference with 24 points, followed by the dark horse Highlanders, who on Friday notched their fourth win of the campaign, 27-20 against the Bulls, on 19 and the Crusaders on 18.
The Hurricanes and the Blues, who both had byes at the weekend, are on 16.
First five-eighth Lima Sopoaga contributed 17 points for the Highlanders and All Black halfback Aaron Smith also impressed.
The Chiefs are third overall, behind the Sharks, who beat the Lions 25-12 in Johannesburg with fullback Lwazi Mvovo scoring the sole try of the match.
Left wing Nick Cummins showed there is more to his game than entertaining after-match interviews about honey badgers by bagging three tries as the Western Force beat the Waratahs 28-16 in Perth to extend their winning streak to a record five matches.
The Force are now second in the much-improved Australian conference, behind the Brumbies, who shaded the Reds 23-20 on Friday night with a Nic White penalty proving the difference after both teams had scored two tries. Fairfax NZ
- Fairfax Media
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