Written by Max Sharp.
In one of the classic semi-final encounters, Clayton McMillan coached his Chiefs at Orangetheory Stadium, away from home. Having upset the Crusaders there, earlier in 2022, a lot of hype was pushed ahead of the match. After failing to take opportunities to kick penalty goals, the Chiefs found themselves behind by 7-20 at half-time. Neither team scored any points in the second-half, despite the Chiefs' 62% possession rate by the end of the match. The 13-point loss was a disappointing end to the team's season, we'll read through the players from jersey 1 through to 23, to see how the Chiefs performed.
Chiefs Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - Aidan Ross (6/10)
The number 1 may be disappointed with his performance around the pitch. Ross made just 2 carries for 3 metres and 2 passes, while his team's possession rate confined him to just 3/3 tackles. Ross did provide good ruck speed though, to enable a confident attack.
Hooker - Samisoni Taukei'aho (9/10)
Easily his team's best. Threw all of his lineouts perfectly straight, while making 43 metres and beating 4 defenders from an incredible 19 carries. Complimented strong attack with accurate defence; 9/9 tackles. Taukei'aho is the long-term number 2 for the All Blacks.
Tighthead Prop - Angus Ta'avao (7/10)
Got though 70 solid minutes to give his leadership up front. Ta'avao only made 8 metres, but did score the team's only try and beat 2 defenders off 7 carries. Will be grumpy with 7/10 tackles, but did give some strong ruck speed, cleaning out opponents fast.
Lock 4 - Brodie Retallick (6/10)
The metres Retallick ran can tell us he was a bit more interested in getting the team go-forward ball, rather than get gaps himself. Confined to 13 metres off 11 tackles, Retallick did do a bit of defending, with 8/10 tackles and 1 turnover. Not a great performance, but a decent one.
Lock 5 - Tupou Vaa'i (5/10)
22-year-old Tupou Vaa'i has improved a lot this season, but wasn't quite busy enough. Though his huge frame was used for 21 metres off 8 carries and 7 passes, is 6/6 tackles really enough for 80 minutes after he wasn't much of a feature in the ruck?
Blindside Flanker - Samipeni Finau (7/10)
Tonga will surely eye him up ahead of 2023. Finau behaved as a third lock in the ruck and lineout, while running 28 metres off 7 carries. 9/9 tackles was acceptable considering the possession rate. Keep him at 6 for next year, he looks good there.
Openside Flanker - Luke Jacobson (7/10)
One of many forwards who put his heart into the game. Shut down on attack with 19 metres off 13 carries, Jacobson was ever-present with 7 passes and 1 offload; making 1 turnover and 11 tackles too. Ian Foster's utility forward off the bench from jersey 20, against Ireland, will certainly be Jacobson.
Number 8 - Pita Gus Sowakula (4/10)
Don't let his stats fool you. Sowakula's offload almost went to touch, his other 4 passes were a bit 50/50 as well. Though his frame was defensively effective, with 10/10 tackles, Sowakula did not look interested in rucks and simply waited for the ball. Though he did carry effectively, 17 times, making 36 metres and beating 3 defenders, this may not be enough for Ian Foster.
Halfback - Brad Weber (5/10)
The 62% possession rate saw the Chiefs' captain make 119 passes in his 70 minutes, while going himself to run 26 metres and beat 1 defender off 6 carries. Not good defence though, 0/4 tackle attempts. Some odd decision-making as captain too, having Gatland kick penalties would have been very useful for the scoreboard.
First-Five - Bryn Gatland (4/10)
Attempted to generate an attack with his 6 metres and 3 defenders beaten from 5 carries, by running flat off the line, this didn't work though. Selected forwards to carry very carefully with 38 passes and 1 offload, but made just 1/4 tackle attempts. Hopefully Foster won't use this performance as too much weight towards All Blacks selections.
Left Wing - Etene Nanai-Seturo (4/10)
You need more than dancing feet against the big boys. Nanai-Seturo was confined to just 26 metres and 1 defender beaten in just 6 carries. Though he passed back inside 4 times and made an offload, wingers are allowed to do more than 2/3 tackles.
Second-Five - Quinn Tupaea (7/10)
To be honest, the yellow card against Tupaea was pretty harsh, considering Pablo Matera's position. Tupaea worked hard with 33 metres and 6 defenders beaten off 13 carries, being the top tackler of his team with 13. Won a turnover, his pass to touch was a bit of a blunder though.
Centre - Alex Nankivell (6/10)
Mr Fix-It ran some good lines with 32 metres and 2 defenders beaten off 6 carries, making a clean break too. 1 pass isn't too good but skip-passes have been the team's tactic in 2022. Nankivell defended when he needed to, with 5/6 tackles.
Right Wing - Jonah Lowe (6/10)
Though Lowe broke himself for the cause, coming off injured with 27 minutes left, his running lines all lead to near-try possibilities for his team. Lowe's stat chart of 29 metres and 1 defender beaten off 4 carries doesn't look flash on paper, but it opened the pitch up lots.
Fullback - Josh Ioane (4/10)
It was clear that Ioane had not been training at 15 prior to this week, he didn't look too comfortable in the jersey and made a few questionable calls. Though he made 13 passes, they weren't always to the right man. McMillan should have started Chase Tiatia.
Reserve Hooker - Bradley Slater (No rating)
Slater was bought on for Taukei'aho with just 10 minutes left so won't be rated.
Reserve Loosehead Prop - Ollie Norris (7/10)
Bought some real strength off the bench, probably should have been given more ball. Norris' running stats were 9 metres and 2 defenders beaten off 3 carries, while he completed 5/5 tackles. An All Black cap must be very close.
Reserve Tighthead Prop - George Dyer (No rating)
One of the Chiefs' five replacements to come on with just 10 minutes left.
Reserve Lock - Naitoa Ah Kuoi (No rating)
Made just 2 tackles after being bought on for Retallick so won't be rated.
Reserve Loose Forward - Sam Cane (6/10)
Straight back into it after a minor injury and came on to make 10 hard-hitting tackles. Only got the chance to run 1 metre from 2 carries, but made 4 passes and 1 offload. The All Blacks selectors will be impressed by Cane's 28-minute cameo.
Reserve Halfback - Xavier Roe (No rating)
On for Weber with 10 minutes left, the result had already been decided.
Reserve Midfielder - Rameka Poihipi (No rating)
One of the five substitutes for the last 10 minutes, coming on for Nankivell.
Reserve Utility Back - Chase Tiatia (6/10)
Made a few defensive misreads, but nailed 3/3 of his tackles. Tiatia was one of few threatening attackers, with his 28 metres coming from just 4 carries. One must wonder why
he wasn't chosen to start in the 15 jersey.