Another epic Chiefs comeback ends in draw

06:44, Apr 06 2014
Aaron Cruden
Aaron Cruden barks out a play call during the Chiefs Super Rugby opener against the Crusaders.
Israel Dagg
Chiefs players Charlie Ngatai and Mils Muliaina attempt to bring down Israel Dagg.
Augustine Pulu and Tim Nanai-Williams
Chiefs players Augustine Pulu and Tim Nanai-Williams jump high for a high-ball against the Crusaders.
Robbie Fruean
Chiefs centre Robbie Fruean has a barnstroming game against his former Crusaders team.
Tawera Kerr-Barlow
Halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow runs onto Waikato Stadium to face the Highlanders.
Liam Messam
Liam Messam runs into the tackle of Highlanders hooker Liam Coltman.
Tim Nanai-Williams
Chiefs fullback Tim Nanai-Williams glides through a gap in the Highlanders defensive line.
Chiefs fans
Chiefs fans enjoyed a two-point victory against the Highlanders.
Michael Fitzgerald
Chiefs lock Michael Fitzgerald charges forward at the Highlanders.
Tawera Kerr-Barlow
Chiefs halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow sprints away from a scrum.
Gareth Anscombe
Gareth Anscombe cuts through the Stormers' defence late in the game.
Aaron Cruden and Jean de Villiers
Aaron Cruden brings down Stormers second-five Jean de Villiers.
James Lowe
Chiefs wing James Lowe confronts the Stormers defence.
Tom Marshall
Tom Marshall toes the ball on in the Chiefs' impressive win over the Stormers.
2014 Chiefs season
Caille Visagie and Dean Greyling of the Bulls tackle Tom Marshall of the Chiefs at Loftus Versfeld.
2014 Chiefs season
Prop Ben Tameifuna of the Chiefs tries in vain to keep the ball under control against the Bulls in Pretoria.
Ben Tameifuna
Chiefs halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow tries to make a break against the Bulls in South Africa.
2014 Chiefs season
Jacques Du Plessis of the Bulls crashes trough the Chiefs' defensive line.
Chiefs 2014 Season
Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick lines up Cheetahs hooker Adriaan Strauss for a hard tackle.
Chiefs 2014 season
Michael Fitzgerald makes a charge for the Chiefs against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Chiefs 2014 season
Gareth Anscombe chases down a loose ball against the Cheetahs in South Africa.
Chiefs 2014 season
Chiefs halfback Augustine Pulu looks to offload after being grounded by the Melbourne Rebels' defence.
Chiefs 2014 season
Tom Marshall on the charge for the Chiefs against the Rebels in Hamilton.
Chiefs 2014 season
Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna makes a charge against the Rebels at Waikato Stadium.
Chiefs 2014 season
Sam Cane in action against the Melbourne Rebels.
Chiefs 2014 season
Gareth Anscombe of the Chiefs looks for support in the tackle of Kieran Reid of the Crusaders.
Chiefs 2014 season
Tom Marshall of the Chiefs loses possession in the slippery conditions during the Chiefs and Crusaders match.
Chiefs 2014 season
Tom Marshall of the Chiefs takes a high ball under pressure from Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders.
Chiefs 2014 season
Christian Lealiifano of the Brumbies is tackled during their match against the Chiefs.
Chiefs 2014 season
Tevita Koloamatangi of the Chiefs is tackled during their match against the Brumbies.
Chiefs 2014 season
Liam Messam of the Chiefs runs the ball during their match against the Brumbies.
Chiefs 2014 Season
Gareth Anscombe of the Chiefs scores a try in the tackle of Franco Mostert of the Lions.
Chiefs 2014 season
Tim Nanai-Williams of the Chiefs scores a try against the Lions in Hamilton.
Chiefs 2014 season
Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna makes a charge at the Lions defence during their Super Rugby clash.
Chiefs 2014 season
Chiefs prop Jamie Mackintosh puts the head down to make some hard yards for his team against the Lions.
2014 Chiefs season
Fireworks go off at Yarrow Stadium ahead of the Chiefs' home clash with the Blues in New Plymouth.
2014 Chiefs season
Tom Marshall, centre, is congratulated by teammates after scoring a try for the Chiefs against the Blues in New Plymouth.
2014 Chiefs season
Chiefs fans delighted to get the chance to cheer their team on in New Plymouth.
2014 Chiefs season
Liam Messam, right, asks referee Mike Fraser to go to the TMO during the Chiefs' clash with the Blues.
Chiefs vs Waratahs
The Chiefs put the pressure on the Waratahs' Jacques Potgieter in New Plymouth.
Chiefs vs Waratahs
Kurtley Beale and Wycliff Palu take down Chiefs fullback Tom Marshall at Taranaki Stadium.
Conrad Smith
Hurricanes skipper Conrad Smith makes a pass during his side's clash with the Chiefs.
Tim Nanai-Williams
Tim Nanai-Williams is tackled by Dane Coles.
Brodie Retallick
Brodie Retallick runs it against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Tawera Kerr-Barlow
Tawera Kerr-Barlow flicks a pass out during the Chiefs' clash with the Waratahs.
Aaron Cruden
Chiefs first-five Aaron Cruden attempts to sidestep a tackle during his side's clash with the Waratahs.
Tanerau Latimer
Tanerau Latimer of the Chiefs makes a break during his side's Super Rugby clash with the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Bundee Aki
Bundee Aki of the Chiefs looks to take the high ball during his side's 29-25 loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Tim Nanai-Williams
Tim Nanai-Williams scores a try for the Chiefs during their round 17 Super Rugby match against the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Gareth Anscombe
Gareth Anscombe of Chiefs on the attack during his side's round 17 Super Rugby match against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Asaeli Tikoirotuma
Asaeli Tikoirotuma from the Chiefs during his side's 24-16 win over the Hurricanes in Hamilton.
Hadleigh Parkes
Hadleigh Parkes from the Hurricanes celebrates a try during his side's Super Rugby clash against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Ben Tameifuna
Ben Tameifuna of the Chiefs steps out of the tackles of Ardie Savea (left) and Jeffery Toomaga-Allen of the Hurricanes during his side's round 18 Super Rugby win in Hamilton.
Jeremy Thrush
Jeremy Thrush of the Hurricanes charges into Liam Messam of the Chiefs with the assistance of Ben Franks (left) during the round 18 clash between the two sides at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
Ardie Savea
Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes is tackled by Chiefs captain Aaron Cruden during the round 18 fixture at Waikato Stadium.
Brodie Retallick
Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick reaches for the ball.
Brodie Retallick
Halfback Tawera Kerr Barlow topples over in the Chiefs' round 19 Super Rugby game against the Blues.
Brodie Retallick
Chiefs first five Aaron Cruden barks orders at his team during their Super Rugby match against the Blues at Eden Park.
Brodie Retallick
Chiefs players Aaron Cruden and Tim Nanai-Williams share their joy at making it to the Super Rugby playoffs after beating the Blues at Eden Park.
Brodie Retallick
Good sportsmanship was on show after the Chiefs beat the Blues at Eden Park with Bundee Aki sharing a moment with Ma'a Nonu.
Bundee Aki
Bundee Aki runs into the Brumbies defence at GIO Stadium.
Pat McCabe
Brumbies second-five Pat McCabe is lifted off his feet in a Chiefs tackle.
Pauliasi Manu
Pauliasi Manu illustrates the Chiefs' disappointment at the final whistle.
Ben Tameifuna
Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna on the charge.
Liam Messam
Liam Messam brings down Brumbies No 10 Christian Lealiifano.
Augustine Pulu
Augustine Pulu looks to break a Brumbies tackle.

The Chiefs have produced another remarkable second-half comeback for their second successive Super Rugby bonus-point draw in South Africa.

A Tim Nanai-Williams try between the posts over a minute after the fulltime siren and a regulation Aaron Cruden conversion grabbed the 43-43 draw against the bottom-placed Cheetahs in Bloemfontein this morning (NZ time).

The New Zealand Conference leaders came from 34-10 down at halftime to outscore the home side at Free State Stadium 33-9 in the second half, scoring six tries to four in the match and five tries to none in the second stanza.

The Chiefs claimed three points with the result to take them to 20 points overall - third on the competition table and well ahead in the Kiwi conference.

The Chiefs played the first half like possums caught in the headlights, unable to do much right in the face of an audacious Cheetahs team that ran the ball effectively from all parts of the field.

The home side had a bonus point before halftime as a result and led by the daunting score of 34-10 at the changeover.

The Chiefs struggled to get their hands on the ball and when they did they often turned it over through a comedy of errors.

Star of the half was the quicksilver Cheetahs halfback Sarel Pretorius, who scored two of the home team's four tries and thrived on their wide running game.

He got the first one when the home side swept downfield with quick ruck ball and great support play, Pretorius throwing a big dummy at the final ruck to score.

Johan Goosen converted and while Aaron Cruden got the Chiefs on the board soon after with a penalty goal after a Tom Marshall breakout, but then Cheetahs second-five Rayno Benjamin replied quickly with a fortuitous try from what looked like a forward pass from centre Willie Le Roux.

Goosen kicked the hosts out to 17-3 before halfback Augustine Pulu got the Chiefs' first try when a penalty gave them an attacking lineout and they finally held onto the ball in the ensuing forward attacks led by flanker Mike Fitzgerald.

At 17-10 the Chiefs were back in the game on the scoreboard at least but again Pretorius struck with a huge scrum break running wide and then catching the visitors out with a quick tapped penalty try as the Chiefs argued over a penalty from the resulting 5m scrum.

Three minutes later and just over two minutes from halftime the Cheetahs had their bonus point when they kicked a penalty to the left corner and drove the lineout for flanker Boom Prinsloo to score, Goosen's conversion making it 34-10 at the break.

Sixteen missed tackles and just 38 per cent of possession told the story of the first spell for the Chiefs and things continued to go against them despite a better start and Benjamin held Pulu up over the line to deny him his second try.

But the back-to-back champions continued to press home the attack from a dominant field position and again Pulu was in the action, scoring his second pick-and-go try in the 11th minute of the half after Marshall spearheaded the attack.

Cruden's conversion narrowed the deficit to 17 points but it was quickly back out to 20 through Goosen's long-range boot.

The Chiefs changed both their props, bringing on Jamie Mackintosh and Josh Hohneck, as well as bringing on experience in the form of Mils Muliaina and Tanerau Latimer, and quickly they got back in the game with with two quick tries to Tim Nanai-Williams and Asaeli Tikoirotuma for their own bonus point and the deficit back to eight points at 37-29.

Cruden missed a penalty chance to reduce that gap further, but he then kicked his team back onto attack deep in the Cheetahs' 22.

It proved vital as the Chiefs' attack grew enormously in confidence and a brilliant team try to Tikoirotuma, which featured slick passing, took the Chiefs within one point of the home side at 37-36.

The Chiefs' momentum was interrupted by a Goosen penalty goal but at 40-36 the Chiefs had outscored the Cheetahs 26-6 for the half.

But six minutes later a scrum penalty enabled Goosen to open the gap further to seven points and immediately Mackintosh conceded a tackle penalty that enabled the Cheetahs to set up a lineout and dominate possession to the end.

But suddenly back-to-back penalties to the Chiefs gave them one last chance to force a draw after the final hooter.

They swept downfield, patiently building through the forwards as they got near the try line and then it went wide and finally Nanai-Williams danced through between the posts for his second try and the chance for Cruden to tie the scores with his conversion, which he duly did.

Cheetahs 43 (Sarel Pretorius 2, Rayno Benjamin, Boom Prinsloo tries; Johan Goosen 4 cons, 5 pens) Chiefs 43 (Augustine Pulu 2, Asaeli Tikoirotuma 2, Tim Nanai-Williams 2 tries; Aaron Cruden 5 cons, pen). HT: 34-10

Advertisement

Tom Marshall
CHANGE UP: Chiefs utility back Tom Marshall has moved from left wing to fullback for Friday night's big clash with the Hurricanes in Hamilton.

Stuff