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The Roar


Chiefs all but extinguish Force’s finals hopes in record Tron trouncing, injury concerns for Dmac

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4th May, 2024
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As the Western Force’s finals hopes blew up in smoke, the Chiefs moved one step closer to securing top-four finish and a home-quarter final after a commanding 56 – 7 win in Waikato.

Trailing 29 – 7 at halftime, the Force were their own worst enemies for much of the game, with discipline and execution at the ruck falling short on multiple occasions. Off the back of a strong set-piece performance, the Chiefs piled on nine tries – including a hattrick to winger Daniel Rona – ran out 49-point winners. 

The win was the Chiefs’ greatest over the Force, besting their 53 – 10 victory in 2016. However, it was not all good news for the Waikato side, with star fly-half Damian McKenzie forced off in the 56th minute following a head knock.

Missing the kick-off in the first ten seconds and conceding three penalties in the first three minutes, the Force struggled to keep pace in the opening half hour, as tries to Emoni Narawa, Rona and Tupou Vaa’i and a flawless night from McKenzie saw the hosts pick up the bonus point in the opening 20 minutes.

Referee James Doleman during the round 11 Super Rugby Pacific match between Chiefs and Western Force at FMG Stadium Waikato, on May 04, 2024, in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

Referee James Doleman during the round 11 Super Rugby Pacific match between Chiefs and Western Force at FMG Stadium Waikato, on May 04, 2024, in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

The Force came back well in the final ten minutes of the half, earning a penalty try – however, they were unable to double their score going into halftime, with Sam Spink held up over the try line.

Ill-discipline proved costly early in the second half, as the Chiefs piled on a further five tries in the second half to push the hosts past fifty – with the result capped off when referee James Doleman sent Hamish Stewart to the bin off the back of repeated infringements.

The visitors were forced to make 153 tackles – and missed 21 of them – giving Simon Cron and his coaching team a lot to unpack. The penalty count also saw them concede 12 penalties – double that of the Chiefs – with discipline and basic errors stifling momentum.


Captain Jeremy Williams admitted post-game that “I don’t really have many words for that.”

“I think we were our own worst enemy, with our discipline, piggy-backing them in our 22, they just capitalised on it.

“At the backend of that first half we kind of gained a bit of momentum, but in the second half we struggled to slow their ruck speed and they just played on top of us.”

The news wasn’t all positive for the Chiefs, with McKenzie forced to depart midway through the second half after copping a tough hit from Izack Rodda. He was also joined on the sidelines by talented lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi, who was forced from the field in the first half.

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Until his subbing, McKenzie was in strong form – having a stellar night with the boot and orchestrating several of the game’s best highlights.

While the Chiefs’ momentum was maintained after his departure, the kicking from Narawa and Josh Ioane left a lot to be desired, which could be cause for concern should McKenzie’s injury prove more significant.

Dspite the injury concerns, the Chiefs took confidence in a strong return for All Black Luke Jacobson capping off a dominant front row display, with winger Rona also featuring strongly – picking up three tries for his efforts.

Kauvaka Kalvelata impressed in his debut for the Waikato side, while scrumhalf Cortez Ratima also pressed his case for All Black consideration, keeping the foot on the throat after McKenzie departed.

The Force also were hit with injury concerns, with Issak Fines-Leleiwasa being forced from the field with an apparent ankle injury mid-way through the second half – a concern for Cron after Nic White was ruled out earlier this week with a knee injury.

However, they look to have an exciting halves talent on their hands in Junior Wallaby Henry Robertson, with the young scrumhalf impressing off the bench in his debut Super Rugby match.


The Chiefs will travel to Auckland next week to face Moana Pasifika, before making the journey across to Melbourne to face the Rebels.

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Anchored at the bottom of the ladder, the WA franchise now has to win every single game to be considered a mathematical chance – with the Super Rugby Predictor giving them a 9% to make finals. 

They will be home for the next fortnight, welcoming the Fijian Drua and the New South Wales Waratahs.