Written by Max Sharp.
For every incredible come-up, there's a downfall. The Chiefs managed to take out a decisive win against the Crusaders in Round 4, but the Crusaders have managed to get their vengeance. The Chiefs ended up losing 19-34 despite some courageous performances by their backline. Let's have a read through and see which Chiefs players stood out.
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Logo copyright: Gallagher Chiefs.
Chiefs Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - Ollie Norris (7/10)
He was one of several Chiefs scrambling to hold the defence line, with the Crusaders' 63% territory rate. Norris' 8 tackles all stung, while he didn't shy away with ball-in-hand, running 6 metres off 3 carries. 100% scrum success is his highlight of the match.
Hooker - Samisoni Taukei'aho (7/10)
58 minutes of solid rugby from the Tongan-born number 2. 18 metres off 7 carries made for strong attack, while he also managed 8 tackles. Taukiei'aho is almost certain to add to his 9 test caps later this season if he avoids injury.
Tighthead Prop - Sione Mafileo (4/10)
While the team won every scrum off their own feed, Mafileo just wasn't active enough around the park. He did not take the ball forward for any carries, his only statistics were 1 pass and 3 tackles. Start Ta'avao at 3 next week.
Lock 4 - Josh Lord (7/10)
The two test caps he earned in 2021 aged just 20, have paid dividends. Added muscle to his frame allowed Lord to make 10 bone-crushing tackles against the Crusaders, his 6 metres from 6 carries were also decent. 100% lineout rate, a solid performance overall.
Lock 5 - Brodie Retallick (4/10)
Such a statement will no doubt lead to me receiving abusive messages, but Retallick's expiry date was 2017. He did not touch the ball at all against the Crusaders and was subbed off after only 30 minutes with a shoulder injury (though his 9 tackles had been the highest in the game).
Blindside Flanker - Tupou Vaa'i (8/10)
Who would replace Retallick in the starting XV if he was dropped from test rugby? Vaa'i. Although he was deployed out-of-position again, he got through the 80 minutes making 8 metres from 5 carries, 3 passes, 8 tackles and a turnover. Vaa'i is now the dominant leader of the Chiefs' pack.
Openside Flanker - Sam Cane (7/10)
The former All Black captain had one of his typical, hard-nosed games. Cane looks fit and lean and used this to make a team-high 13 tackles and 1 turnover. Though his attack will always be softer than his defence, he's become a passing threat, with 7 of them.
Number 8 - Samipeni Finau (5/10)
He's not an 8, he's a blindside, this showed. Finau was shut down by the Crusaders; he made a single carry and gained 2 metres. Though he made 9 tackles, he just didn't appear confident in the jersey. He didn't select himself there, I hope to see him wear 6 next week.
Halfback - Brad Weber (6/10)
Weber had a game that was slightly above average, he, like most halfbacks this season, has just basically paid attention to his basics. Weber's 2 carries allowed him to run 12 metres and beat a defender, while he made 6 tackles.
First-Five - Bryn Gatland (9/10)
At 10, Gatland does indeed, remain in-form. Though some of his carries were shut down, he did manage 41 metres, 1 defender beaten and 10 carries. He also made 26 passes, attacks were often skipping the midfield and straight from Gatland to carriers. 8 tackles is great for a 10 as well.
Left Wing - Etene Nanai-Seturo (5/10)
Woah, that's a lot of defenders beaten from only 35 metres! Nanai-Seturo's 7 defenders beaten came off 8 carries, he passed back inside 5 times and also gave off 1 offload. Needs to come off his wing more though, 1 tackle just isn't enough. Dancing feet don't get you anywhere against massive forwards.
Second-Five - Quinn Tupaea (5/10)
Tupaea was effectively forced into playing as a fourth loose forward due to Gatland's dominance over the game plan, making 8 tackles and 1 turnover. He managed only 9 metres from 3 carries and made only 2 passes. It was disappointing to see him come off injured, get well soon mate.
Centre - Alex Nankivell (10/10)
I've never seen him play like that before, Nankivell's really come to life this season. He scored two tries, ran 75 metres, beat 8 defenders, made 2 clean breaks and 11 carries in a supreme attacking display. If he keeps this consistent he'll finally be an All Black.
Right Wing - Shaun Stevenson (7/10)
Stevenson's game was an example of how you effectively perform the basics well. Firstly, he came off his wing lots to get involved, delivering 5 passes and 1 offload, while he also made 6 tackles. His individual attack was very dangerous as well.
Fullback - Kaleb Trask (7/10)
Other critics complain about his 1.8m stature not standing up to the high ball, but Trask at 15 is crucial tactically. He ran 54 metres, beat 3 defenders and made 1 clean break off 9 carries, while his distribution was very helpful. He proved why the Chiefs thrive off a 10-15 axis.
Reserve Hooker - Tyrone Thompson (7/10)
He came on for Taukei'aho with 22 minutes left and carried hard, but to no avail. His carry metres were 23, off only 4 runs, he also beat a defender and made 1 turnover. Commendable impact from the young front-rower.
Reserve Loosehead Prop - Aidan Ross (6/10)
Ross will be disappointed to have lost his 50th game for the Chiefs. He kept the scrum solid and ran 2 metres from 3 carries, while he made 3 passes and 2 tackles. It's just unlucky he has the misfortune of being behind a rising star in the form of Norris.
Reserve Tighthead Prop - Angus Ta'avao (5/10)
In his 100th Super Rugby game, the prop came on as a substitute in the 47th minute for Mafileo. I was impressed with his urgency to counter-ruck, rather than waste time with ball-in-hand. Ta'avao gave off 2 passes, but it was disappointing to see him make just 4 tackles.
Reserve Lock - Naitoa Ah Kuoi (7/10)
Ah Kuoi came on much earlier than expected, after Retallick's wrist injury. Despite being the shortest lock, he was just as effective in the lineout and also ran his 6 metres from 2 carries. 7 passes and 1 offload was great to see, while he defended hard with 8 tackles.
Reserve Utility Forward - Kaylum Boshier (No rating)
Didn't get involved enough to be rated. He came on for Finau with 21 minutes left and made 9 metres from 5 carries.
Reserve Loose Forward - Mitch Jacobson (No rating)
He came off the bench to play at 6, with 12 minutes left, for Lord, so Vaa'i moved to lock. He made one very effective carry but didn't play enough to be rated properly.
Reserve Halfback - Cortez Ratima (8/10)
This player also came on with just 12 minutes left but did a lot in that time frame! Ratima scored a try just 2 minutes after coming on, while he ran 24 metres, beat 3 defenders and made a clean break from just 3 carries. Commendably, he also made a turnover. Ratima was nothing short of a super-sub from jersey 22.
Reserve Utility Back - Josh Ioane (6/10)
Ioane left the Highlanders to get more time in the 10 jersey, but ended up playing 12 when he came on for the injured Quinn Tupaea. He took his limited opportunities well, running 10 metres and beating 1 defender off just 2 carries, but was still overshadowed by Gatland.