In a tense, low-scoring effort induced by shocking weather, the Chiefs put on a strong defensive effort to extend their win streak to six in a row as they head into a bye week. Having scored within just 26 seconds of the kickoff, they held a half-time score of 17-10 and extended it to a final score of 20-13.
After what was a solid performance for the FMG Stadium crowd, we'll reflect on the Chiefs' match by rating each player from jersey number 1 through to 23.
CHIEFS PLAYER RATINGS
Big Loosehead Prop, Ollie Norris, (left, pictured in 2022 at Sky Stadium) produced the goods on defence and set-piece for the Chiefs.
Loosehead Prop - Ollie Norris (8/10)
Helped the team to establish an early lead with his removal of Dalton Papali'i from several rucks, while nailing 10/11 tackles and winning a turnover to help Emoni Narawa score early. Scrummaged well too, to put Ian Foster's 2022 All Blacks XV selections to shame.
Hooker - Samisoni Taukei'aho (7/10)
Pouring rain, a tight score and a fierce rival. The perfect storm for a classic Taukei'aho effort. He ran the second-most metres of his side with 32 and made 1 clean break off 7 carries, to go with 9/10 tackles. Lineout wasn't quite the best but nothing woeful.
Tighthead Prop - John Ryan (6/10)
When signing Ryan, the Chiefs knew exactly what they were going to get. Nothing flashy, just an experienced player who will set a platform with the basics of his role. Showed nice work with his cover defence (4/6 tackle stats will distort this strength to casual observers) and efficiently lifted jumpers.
Lock 4 - Brodie Retallick (7/10)
Gave it some true grunt to get go-forward, with 12 metres and 1 defender beaten off 4 carries. 4 passes from Retallick were the pack's most due to weather, while his 12/12 tackles and 1 turnover were exactly what was needed up front. 3 penalties conceded was a let-down.
Lock 5 - Tupou Vaa'i (7/10)
After coming off with sore ribs, let's hope Vaa'i isn't injured again. Did nothing wrong aside from one missed tackle (11/12 total). Ran 8 metres off 3 carries and produced one heck of a try saver on Beauden Barrett in a demonstration of how to do the basics right.
Blindside Flanker - Samipeni Finau (8/10)
Is truly proving his worth on defence and nailed 13 tackles to push plenty of carriers backwards. Gave a strong effort at the breakdown, playing like a third lock. The stat sheet shows 5 metres off 5 carries, but there will be several more from post-contact leg drives!
Openside Flanker - Sam Cane (6/10)
Nothing awful, nothing spectacular, simply came on to lead his troops and did that exact thing very well. Made 8/8 tackles and frustrated several Blues players by slowing down their source of ball. Subbed off after 61 minutes due to a groin incident.
Number 8 - Luke Jacobson (7/10)
Didn't manage to outplay Hoskins Sotutu by any means, but definitely kept the opposition honest with his 13/13 tackles and 1 turnover won. Made the right choices on all four occasions he touched the ball, keeping it to himself for 6 metres, 3 carries and 1 pass.
Halfback - Brad Weber (8/10)
Outstanding movement of the ball into tight spaces, to continue the retention of possession. Made a few handy kicks and ran 16 metres off 3 carries to add a little flair in a few moments. Thoroughly outplayed his opposite, Finlay Christie.
First-Five - Damian McKenzie (9/10)
17 passes from McKenzie to 43 from Weber showed a true mix of playing off 9 and 10, while Beauden Barrett and Stephen Perofeta will have nightmares about McKenzie's kicking. Got to run 32 metres and beat 3 defenders from his 7 carries, while 12/13 tackles is an immense effort for a first-five.
Left Wing - Etene Nanai-Seturo (7/10)
Played to what was in front of him for 42 metres and 2 defenders beaten off 5 carries, while lending his boot to the cause on defence a few times. His tackling (8/9) is definitely improving at long last as well.
Second-Five - Rameka Poihipi (8/10)
Barely had a handle on any space, simply being forced to take the ball into contact for 6 metres off his 6 carries, so made up for this by making all 3 of his passes very useful. Poihipi's defence was a huge highlight, for 11/12 tackles and 1 turnover. Did he play flanker at school?
Centre - Daniel Rona (No rating)
Although he played for 67 minutes courtesy of an injury crisis, Rona did not get to touch the ball during the game, while he made 3/4 tackles. As he didn't have much involvement with the game, giving a proper rating wouldn't be fair.
Right Wing - Emoni Narawa (9/10)
Played with incredible pace to sprint in on a grubber by McKenzie, scoring his first try after just 26 minutes. Scored his team's only other try, ran 28 metres, beat 4 defenders and made 2 clean breaks off 5 total carries. Narawa is the true breakout star for the Chiefs in 2023, not Stevenson. Definitely the best player on the pitch, would get a 10 if not for 2/3 tackles.
Fullback - Shaun Stevenson (6/10)
This kind of weather wasn't going to enable Stevenson to create the reels, so he stuck to the basics to produce 30 metres off 2 carries, while winning 1 turnover. 5/7 tackles is an improvement on his previous defensive efforts.
Reserve Hooker - Tyrone Thompson (5/10)
A bit of a mixed bag for the 22-year-old this evening. The Chiefs' lineout looked a little shakier with him running the second half, though 7 tackles in 29 minutes isn't shabby by any means. An average performance.
Reserve Loosehead Prop - Aidan Ross (8/10)
Came straight off the bench to inject the old-school venom so often seen throughout his career. Ross' lone carry was for 5 metres, while 9/10 tackles was the fifth-most of his team in just 26 minutes. With George Bower injured, is a second test cap still possible?
Reserve Tighthead Prop - George Dyer (7/10)
Dyer is starting to get into the groove of Super Rugby and like Ross, showed his worth in tight areas of the game. Ran 4 metres and beat 1 defender from his lone carry, made 5/5 tackles and protected his tryline with several solid scrums.
Reserve Lock - Naitoa Ah Kuoi (8/10)
Copy and paste all of the positives from Vaa'i to Ah Kuoi, who was also dominant in the breakdown. Tied with Ross for 9 tackles off the bench, in 30 minutes' worth of game time. Manu Samoa will surely be taking notice of him?
Reserve Loose Forward - Pita Gus Sowakula (No rating)
Replaced Cane for the last 19 minutes, with Jacobson moving to scrum at 7. Didn't make a notable impact so won't be rated.
Reserve Halfback - Cortez Ratima (7/10)
Picked up where Weber left off to distribute some clean ball to his side. Trusted his props highly when grounding a kick to give the Blues a 5-metre scrum and also completed 4/4 tackles. Surely Ratima will be the All Blacks' third-choice 9 behind Fakatava and Roigard in 2024?
Reserve First-Five - Bryn Gatland (No rating)
Replaced Rona with 13 to go; Nanai-Seturo moved to 13, Stevenson to 11 and McKenzie to 15. Made just 2 tackles so didn't play enough to get a rating.
Reserve Outside Back - Liam Coombes-Fabling (No rating)
Replaced Narawa for the final 9 minutes and didn't get to touch the ball, won't be rated.