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The Roar



Chiefs win a cliffhanger over the Highlanders

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Roar Guru
10th April, 2021

The Highlanders and the Chiefs both came off victories in their previous matches. A win on Saturday would help both teams in the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition. Boy, oh boy, did this match deliver or what?

The Chiefs scored the first points on the back of a try from Etene Nanai-Seturo in the corner in the fifth minute. Damian McKenzie converted the subsequent conversion to give the Chiefs a 7-0 lead.

However, the home side hit back through a try from James Lentjes. The Highlanders hit back with a brilliant set-piece play. Lentjes pulled off a dummy that sent the Chiefs’ defence the wrong way, and he crashed over the line in the tenth minute. Mitch Hunt missed the conversion.

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It looked like the Chiefs hit back, but the TMO ruled no try as McKenzie had knocked the ball on in mid-air. Last week’s star performer Hunt was not having a good night with the tee, and he missed his third penalty to go along with the missed conversion. McKenzie extended in the score to 10-5 in added time.


The second half saw some instant action with the Highlanders levelling the scores at 10-10 in the 42nd minute. The try came on the back of an excellent set-piece play from the line-out that saw Aaron Smith cross the line. Shannon Frizell assisted Smith for the try. Hunt again missed the conversion for the Highlanders.

Aaron Smith of the Highlanders charges forward

(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

McKenzie converted a penalty to give the Chiefs the lead once again with the score at 13-10 in the 46th minute. In reply, Hunt finally landed his first successful kick of the game, with a penalty in the 55th minute, to level the scores at 13-13.

Both teams continued to trade penalties as the Chiefs once again got back in the lead with a successful McKenzie penalty in the 57th minute. Angus Ta’avao took the lead to 21-13 when he crossed the chalk on the back of an excellent pass from McKenzie in the 61st minute. The star playmaker also converted the try to give the Chiefs a 23-13 lead.

Josh Ioane scored a vital try. Smith executed a brilliant pass to Ioane, who saw the gap in the defence and went over the chalk, and Ioane then converted the try. The score was 23-20 with ten minutes left. Ioane then converted a penalty to have the scores level at 23-23 with just three minutes left in normal time.


McKenzie won the game after the siren, but his drop goal attempt went to the right of the sticks. However, he made up for it in the end, when he sealed the deal in the first half of golden point extra time with a successful penalty kick. The star playmaker gave the Chiefs their third consecutive win.

The star for the Chiefs was fullback Damian McKenzie. The Chiefs’ star made seven carries for 75 metres, beat one defender, made one clean break, made 16 passes, scored 16 points, and made three tackles.

Next week, the Highlanders face the Blues at home on Friday. The Chiefs play the Crusaders at home on Saturday.