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Chiefs Player Ratings vs Highlanders (Super Rugby Pacific Round 3, 2023)

This was by no means the perfect performance, but a third-straight win will likely see Clayton McMillan's Chiefs remain atop the Super Rugby Pacific table. Their homecoming to FMG Stadium was a tight-knit contest in the first half, with an 8-0 lead after the first 40. After a yellow card to Shannon Frizell, the Chiefs' spine wasted no time dropping their set-moves and communicating top exploit holes in the Highlanders' defence, finishing the game off with a respectable win margin of 28-7.

Josh Ioane (pictured in 2022) had a strong running game off the bench. Photo: Max Sharp.

Although there were flaws in the game, namely a few handling errors in the rain, what needs to be said about the Chiefs is some good stuff. Let's run through the team from jersey number 1 through to number 23, to see how the Chiefs rated against the Highlanders.


Loosehead Prop - Aidan Ross (6/10)

Although an attempt to unleash more of his running game went pear-shaped thanks to the weather, Ross' 2 metres off 3 carries still generated some front-foot ball. Only forced to attempt 3 tackles but nailed them all, while he did his job in the scrum well.

Hooker - Samisoni Taukei'aho (9/10)

Deservedly had his praises sung by former All Black Angus Ta'avao after the game in the post-match segment. Remains hungry for victory; with 7 carries that resulted in 45 metres run, 5 defenders beaten and 1 carry. Made 4/5 tackles too, strong effort up front.

Tighthead Prop - John Ryan (7/10)

Deservingly wore the number 3 jersey and produced the energy of players that are 4 years his junior, with some quick ruck speed. Disrupted the Highlanders' flow well and nailed his 3/3 tackles, while combining with Ross for a strong scrum.

Lock 4 - Brodie Retallick (7/10)

Acted as the lineout organiser and provided a difference with his jumping, though many metres he ran off 8 carries were post-contact. Has dropped the flashiness to keep his body in tact and its paying off; his leadership and 1 turnover were big parts of the second half. Could have defended a bit better, with a tackle rate of 4/6.

Lock 5 - Tupou Vaa'i (No rating)

Limped off after 16 minutes, with what appears to be a thigh injury. Vaa'i has claimed on social media, that he'll be out for "a couple weeks", so luckily it's nothing serious. Had only made 2 metres off 1 carry, so didn't play enough to get a rating.

Blindside Flanker - Naitoa Ah Kuoi (8/10)

Although this selection was a little unfair on Pita Gus Sowakula, Ah Kuoi's place in the team was a good counter to the weather. Ran 9 metres and beat 1 defender off 8 carries, while using his 11 passes to enable solid front-foot ball off the lineout. Completed 7/7 tackles in his 69-minute shift, after moving to lock due to Vaa'i's injury.

Openside Flanker - Sam Cane (7/10)

Had a strong performance overall, though his second yellow card within three weeks was a concern and brings his rating down. Ran 10 metres, beat 2 defenders and broke the line once off 3 carries, while putting in 15 tackles to top his team's chart. Got the Chiefs out of jail with two turnovers to save some certain tries from happening. Maybe he's a bit excited after his injury return?

Number 8 - Luke Jacobson (8/10)

The number 8 produced an all-round effort with 8/10 tackles, 41 metres, 2 defenders beaten and 1 clean break from 7 carries, while getting involved as the distributor of 2 offloads and 9 passes. As the All Blacks' third-choice number 8, is his extended game time in this jersey a direct order from Ian Foster and Jason Ryan? Perhaps the door isn't shut on him if so?

Halfback - Brad Weber (8/10)

Weber was one of the first Chiefs to start taking the ball into open space, with the others following. Nailed 6/6 tackles perfectly, ran 51 metres, beat 2 defenders and made 1 clean break off 7 carries; though his passing off the breakdown was initially a little off-target.

First-Five - Damian McKenzie (9/10)

Had the perfect game aside from a few handling errors and his 3/7 kicking accuracy; though his organisation was responsible for 18 of the 28 points scored by the Chiefs. Had a stat sheet of 102 metres and 6 defenders beaten from 11 carries, 37 passes, 2 offloads and 8/9 tackles in another Player of the Match effort. He's locked himself in as Foster's third-choice 10 for sure.

Left Wing - Etene Nanai-Seturo (7/10)

Scored the opening try and had a total field day out wide, using his 11 carries to run 126 metres, beat 4 defenders and make 2 linebreaks. Appeared to have some cramps but carried on for the full 80, though defence of 1/3 tackles was a let-down.

Second-Five - Rameka Poihipi (8/10)

Has bulked up in muscle and worked on his kicking game, putting these game elements on show for the home crowd. Made a team-high 13 carries and got some chances later on with 41 metres. Made some nice passes and achieved 9/9 tackles to shut the opponents down.

Centre - Alex Nankivell (7/10)

Wasn't offered too much support on his 5 carries, so did the right thing and took the ball into contact for 45 metres, 4 defenders beaten and 1 clean break. Defence wasn't his day; 2/5 tackles was the total, though distribution was, showed better handling than the other Chiefs with his 7 passes and 1 offload. Won 1 turnover too.

Right Wing - Emoni Narawa (6/10)

Acted as more of a battering ram against Mosese Dawai, using his attack of 10 metres and 6 defenders beaten from 4 carries to recycle the ball past the gainline. Wasn't able to get too much involvement with the game aside from that, but did his job.

Fullback - Shaun Stevenson (8/10)

Moved to wing after 60 minutes and was given plenty of gaps to run through, with 107 metres, 6 defenders beaten and 4 linebreaks from 8 carries. Finished off some well-worked McKenzie magic to score two tries and take his season tally to 5 so far.

Reserve Hooker - Bradley Slater (7/10)

Replaced Taukei'aho after 60 minutes and made 7/8 tackles in this time. Nailed the lineout as expected, while picking up where Taukei'aho left off in cleaning defenders out of the breakdown.

Reserve Loosehead Prop - Ollie Norris (7/10)

On for Ross at 60 and didn't miss any of his 5 tackle attempts. Gave the Highlanders a tough time with his mobility and scrummaging, while saving a try with 1 turnover. Certainly played his part in upping the tempo.

Reserve Tighthead Prop - George Dyer (7/10)

Like Norris, Dyer didn't get to touch the ball in open play, but had a strong defensive performance with 6/6 tackles in just 20 minutes, to push the Highlanders' locks backwards a few times. Did his job in the scrum well.

Reserve Loose Forward - Pita Gus Sowakula (6/10)

Played for just 11 minutes but made an effort to empty the tank. Completed 3/3 tackles, made 1 pass, 1 offload and ran 9 metres off his single carry. Closed several gaps to keep the scoreline in his team's favour. Solid rather than spectacular.

Reserve Utility Forward - Samipeni Finau (9/10)

Came on for the injured Vaa'i and played blindside flanker, with Ah Kuoi moving to lock. The number 20 had a strong running game and scored his first Super Rugby try, ran 29 metres and made 1 linebreak off 9 carries. Contributed 3 passes, 7/7 tackles and 1 turnover to a nice all-round effort too. Showed a few battle scars at the end to demonstrate work ethic.

Reserve Halfback - Cortez Ratima (7/10)

Gave the game a good crack off the bench and has thrived after moving up to second-choice; albeit thanks to Xavier Roe being ruled out for the season. Just 11 passes but made them snappy, made 1 nice carry for 6 metres and made 6/6 tackles.

Reserve Utility Back - Josh Ioane (8/10)

Having missed last week for the birth of his first baby, Ioane was back and didn't miss a beat. Showed his utility value at fullback with good game management; alongside 40 metres, 2 defenders beaten and 1 clean break off 3 carries. Has worked on his defence since last season too, finished 5/5 of his tackles.

Reserve Outside Back - Daniel Rona (6/10)

The 22-year-old New Plymouth Boys' High School alumni replaced Poihipi with 11 minutes to go and produced a short-sharp cameo with 11 metres off his single carry, 2 passes, 1 offload and 5/5 tackles. Don't shy away from giving him more game time in the season.

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