Written by Max Sharp
Well, it was an away game, but I’m very glad I went to Wellington to support the Chiefs. I’m even happier I wasn’t wearing a Chiefs jersey though, the Hurricanes fans were already very disappointed to lose by 1 point. Though the Chiefs did not take the lead until early in the second half, it’s a victory to be proud of, let’s have a run through of who the standouts were!
Chiefs Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - Aidan Ross (7/10)
The Chiefs’ scrum was hugely dominant in the first half, so thank you to Ross for that contribution. 6 effective tackles were his part played on defence, while his 7 metres from 2 carries were solid runs. Ross should very much remain on Ian Foster’s radar.
Hooker - Samisoni Taukei’aho (8/10)
He’s our reserve hooker for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Taukei’aho battered away and ran 32 metres from 11 carries, while also throwing 3 passes, making 7 tackles and 1 turnover. Lineout was good as well, it's come a long way in two years.
Tighthead Prop - Angus Ta’avao (7/10)
Ta’avao was rightfully pleased with the result when I met him after the game, his scrummaging was world-class. His carrying wasn’t too effective, but it was great to see him make 4 passes to open things up. Also made 3 tackles.
Lock 4 - Laghlan McWhannell (8/10)
A late call-up for Tupou Vaa’i, McWhannell got through an amazing 23 minutes before departing with a concussion. His 24 metres were off 4 carries, he jumped well in the lineout, while 5 tackles was a game-high upon the time he was subbed off. Get well soon.
Laghlan McWhannell of the Chiefs departs the Sky Stadium pitch for an HIA with his team medic. Photo: Max Sharp.
Lock 5 - Naitoa Ah Kuoi (7/10)
Lineout jumping holds up well for Ah Kuoi despite his 1.96m stature, his defence was respectable too; 7 tackles and 1 turnover. Needs to be more involved in the team's attack to reach the next level.
Blindside Flanker - Kaylum Boshier (9/10)
Boshier may be an all-rounder in cricket, but he’s also got all-round rugby skills. Scored a brilliant try in the second half, while he ran 51 metres and beat 1 defender off 7 carries. Was a prolific tackler; with 9 to his name and also made 1 turnover.
Sam Cane offloads the ball to an unmarked Anton Lienert-Brown. Photo: Max Sharp.
Openside Flanker - Sam Cane (9/10)
Is this the best season of his career so far? Cane was surprisingly active with ball-in-hand, running 19 metres and 1 clean break off 10 carries, while he also managed 8 passes, 2 offloads, 15 tackles (most for his team) and 2 turnovers. Cane was well-deserving of his post-game grin.
Number 8 - Pita-Gus Sowakula (7/10)
It wasn’t a world-class performance this time, but Sowakula definitely delivered when needed! His 47 metres and clean break were off just 7 carries, one of his 4 passes set up a crucial try for Boshier, 8 very solid tackles from Sowakula too. Great to have him back from injury.
Brad Weber (far-left) chats to his teammates during the Chiefs' warmup. Photo: Max Sharp.
Halfback - Brad Weber (7/10)
Weber’s passing off the ruck was much better than his opposite’s, he made more passes (66) than played minutes (65) too. 14 metres is a decent effort for 3 carries as well. Weber’s test career isn’t over yet!
First-Five - Josh Ioane (9/10)
The one-two punch at 10 works especially well for the Chiefs. Ioane managed a fair bit from his 7 carries, running 26 metres, beating 2 defenders and making 1 clean break. His kicking was 5/5, he made 13 passes and believe it or not, won 2 turnovers. Departed after 58 minutes.
Left Wing - Etene Nanai-Seturo (7/10)
It’s pretty obvious that he’s played fullback before, Nanai-Seturo’s tactical kicking came in handy. He did the basics of his position well, with 50 metres, 2 defenders beaten and 1 clean break off 6 carries. He’s getting even better!
Second-Five - Quinn Tupaea (7/10)
Improvement continues for him, Tupaea threw 8 passes and an incredible 6 offloads. His dynamism made a big difference, as did his 35 metres run and 2 defenders beaten. Small little errors do still remain in his game though, Tupaea can (somehow) get even better!
Centre - Anton Lienert-Brown (9/10)
He’ll be in Team of the Week for sure after some hard carries. Lienert-Brown’s 67 metres and 3 defenders beaten off 9 carries were sure something, pure physicality was inflicted by his huge hits. One downside was that the Chiefs’ tactics of skip-passes saw only 1 pass by Lienert-Brown.
With sunlight on his back, Anton Lienert-Brown (left) grounds the ball for the Chiefs' opening try against the Hurricanes. Photo: Max Sharp.
Right Wing - Alex Nankivell (5/10)
Was forced to play out of position after his perfect game last week. An early turnover got the Chiefs out of jail, while his 10 metres and 1 defender beaten were off just 2 carries. Nankivell would be more effective as a super-sub, his talent is wasted on the wing, the selection isn’t his fault.
Fullback - Emoni Narawa (9/10)
Fiji’s Emoni Narawa was the Chiefs’ star performer and although he broke himself for the cause, was instrumental in the win. He ran a game-high 115 metres and also beat 1 defender off just 7 carries, tactical kicking was an area he excelled at too. Narawa was replaced by Tiatia after 53 minutes.
Reserve Hooker - Tyrone Thompson (6/10)
Was very involved for just 15 minutes of play, he ran 3 metres and beat 1 defender from 2 carries, also making 4 tackles. That’s some impact off the bench for Thompson to be commended on!
Reserve Loosehead Prop - Atu Moli (No rating)
Moli replaced Ross in the 63rd minute and only made 2 tackles. Not enough involvement with the game to give him a player rating.
Reserve Tighthead Prop - George Dyer (No rating)
Dyer was in the same situation as Moli, coming on in the 63rd minute. Again, didn’t have enough involvement for a rating.
Reserve Lock - Josh Lord (7/10)
A last-minute call-up after Tupou Vaa’i was withdrawn on the match day. Lord ended up playing 57 minutes due to McWhannell failing his HIA; contributions to the match involved making 2 valuable turnovers and jumping excellently in the lineout.
A group of university students are seen supporting the Chiefs. Photo: Max Sharp.
Reserve Loose Forward - Luke Jacobson (No rating)
Another one who wasn’t given enough game time. Jacobson played a disappointing 10 minutes after coming on for Sowakula, once again, not enough to rate him. Give him more game time next week.
Reserve Halfback - Cortez Ratima (6/10)
Solid stuff for a substitute, Ratima won a turnover immediately after coming on and then delivered 9 passes and made 3 tackles. Had to wait until the end of the game to make up my mind on his performance; this was all at the opposite side of the stadium to me!
Reserve First-Five - Bryn Gatland (8/10)
This was a textbook example of an experienced player coming off the pine to close things out. Gatland’s lone conversion and a late 50-22’ kick was what kept the scoreboard out of the Hurricanes’ reach. Nice to see him win a turnover and run 9 metres too.
Reserve Utility Back - Chase Tiatia (8/10)
His attacking stats were 28 metres, 1 clean break and 2 defenders beaten off just 2 carries, while this all went towards a game-deciding try. Tiatia sensibly grounded the ball under the post too. Start him at 15 if Narawa is ruled out next week.