Written by Max Sharp.
The only game of Super Rugby Pacific's fifth round was a 59-12 win for the Chiefs, over Moana Pasifika, who were only in their second game for the season. The scoreline wasn't a matter of Moana Pasifika playing poorly, it was a case of the Chiefs being the competition's clear best team. The Chiefs showcased their might in all facets of their performance, they are the team to beat this year. Let's have a read-through and see why they did so well away from home!
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Logo copyright: Gallagher Chiefs.
Chiefs Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - Ollie Norris (9/10)
Put this boy in a black jersey now. Norris has now overtaken Aidan Ross as the Chiefs' best loosehead prop in an outstanding game. 10 metres, 2 passes and a defender beaten wasn't shabby, while his 10 tackles and 3 turnovers were immense contributions. Ripped Moana Pasifika to pieces at scrum time, what a game he had.
Hooker - Bradley Slater (8/10)
Yes, Slater did indeed have a shaky start to the game, but he grew into it well. A very entertaining attacking game, running 41 metres, 3 defenders beaten and a clean break off 5 carries. Slater could still potentially follow his Uncle's footsteps into a black jersey*.
Tighthead Prop - Sione Mafileo (7/10)
Mafileo found himself lacking involvement around the field, but boy did he scrum well! Mafileo's lone carry didn't make any metres, but 3 passes and 4 tackles were at least something. Moana Pasifika will have nightmares about Mafileo's scrum technique.
Lock 4 - Laghlan McWhannell (8/10)
It's great to see the big man excelling at Super Rugby level when he gets to play. 22 metres from 11 carries proved effective, as did his 4 passes and single offload. His 6 tackles reflect the Chiefs' high possession rate.
Lock 5 - Brodie Retallick (6/10)
In just a slightly above-average game, Retallick was the only one in the starting tight-five who didn't have a storming performance. 11 metres from 4 carries, 6 passes and an offload, to go with 3 tackles and a turnover were his stats for the day.
Blindside Flanker - Tupou Vaa'i (9/10)
He has to be Player of the Week. The modern game is requiring more and more mobility from blindsides, as well as four lineout jumpers. Vaa'i fits that bill well and showed it on attack with 47 metres, 4 defenders beaten and a clean break off 10 carries. He is now a better rugby player than Retallick and Patrick Tuipulotu.
Openside Flanker - Hamilton Burr (8/10)
That's a very convincing Super Rugby debut for the Scotland-born Burr, who began his career with the Glasgow Warriors. Getting a try on debut, 17 metres from 8 carries and a team-high 17 tackles will hopefully encourage the coaches to keep picking him!
Number 8 - Pita Gus Sowakula (8/10)
I'll say it again, Fiji need him in their World Cup squad. Was on fire again on attack, scoring a try, running 22 metres and beating 4 defenders from 9 carries. His basketball skills were on show again, 7 passes and 3 offloads is some class from a loose forward. MVP of the Chiefs' season so far.
Halfback - Brad Weber (8/10)
Captain Weber lead the team for the full 80 minutes in his 101st Super Rugby game, allowing him to deliver a whopping 91 passes. His 29 metres were off 7 carries, while it's pretty cool to see a halfback make 11 tackles successfully!
First-Five - Bryn Gatland (8/10)
I think we're witnessing Gatland finally fulfill his potential. He scored 5 points from his try and 6 more off the boot, while 33 metres, a defender beaten and a clean break off 8 carries is something we seem to be seeing more of from him. Subbed off for Ioane with 27 minutes to go.
Left Wing - Jonah Lowe (9/10)
Bringing him into midfield to be an extra distributor at set-piece was a masterstroke of the coaches, his 9 passes opened the field far more. Lowe also ran 42 metres and beat a defender off 10 carries, bagging himself a try off a brilliant Sowakula offload.
Second-Five - Quinn Tupaea (7/10)
Was initially named on the bench but started after Rameka Poihipi's late withdrawal. Tupaea went about his business by performing the basics of his position well, 28 metres and 1 defender beaten off 10 carries was some decent running, while he also contributed 6 passes.
Centre - Alex Nankivell (7/10)
Performed similarly to Tupaea, running all the right lines, including one that allowed him to score. 31 metres, 2 defenders beaten and a clean break were all in a day's work for the 25-year-old Tasman stalwart. Moved to 12 when Tupaea was subbed off for Tiatia.
Right Wing - Emoni Narawa (7/10)
The Fijian-born Narawa didn't make as many metres as you'd expect but did well with them, his 34 metres saw him beat 3 defenders while scoring his try, 2 very nice clean breaks also came from his 8 carries. The Chiefs made a good call by signing him.
Fullback - Kaleb Trask (9/10)
A Chiefs' 10-15 axis of Gatland and Trask did some wonders. Trask ran a game-high 64 metres from his 11 carries, while 11 solid passes highlight his improving distribution. Perhaps fullback is indeed Trask's best position as I mentioned before the season began?
Reserve Hooker - Tyrone Thompson (7/10)
His Super Rugby debut was well-worth waiting for. The ex-Napier Boys' High School pupil proved why Hawke's Bay have signed him for 2022, with solid lineout throwing, 5 tackles and 1 turnover to compliment a try on debut.
Reserve Loosehead Prop - Atu Moli (6/10)
Moli played against his brother Sam, the reserve hooker for Moana Pasifika. Was subbed on for Norris with 20 minutes left and ran 6 metres from his only carry and made 2 tackles. Did what he could to get involved.
Reserve Tighthead Prop - Solomone Tukuafu (No rating)
Tukuafu didn't get enough game time to receive a proper rating, but it was great to see him earn his Chiefs debut. Hope to see him get more minutes so we can see what he brings to the table.
Reserve Lock - Samipeni Finau (7/10)
One of the finds of the 2021 season, it was a good day for Finau, who returned from an off-season injury. 18 metres from 5 carries, whilst he gave 3 passes, 1 offload, 2 tackles and 1 turnover. Not bad for 29 minutes of rugby, hopefully Tonga give him much-deserved test cap.
Reserve Lock - Josh Lord (No rating)
Though he wasn't initially named in the match-day 23, Lord recovered from coronavirus to take the place of Mitchell Brown in jersey 20. The 2-test All Blacks rookie came on with only 12 minutes left, not enough game time for him to get a rating.
Reserve Utility Back - Rivez Reihana (7/10)
Clayton McMillan did not name a replacement halfback for the Chiefs, so Reihana wore jersey 21. He did an awful lot after replacing Trask at fullback, in just 17 minutes we saw him running 27 metres, beating 3 defenders and making a clean break, off only 2 carries.
Reserve First-Five - Josh Ioane (6/10)
Ioane came off the bench and successfully kicked four of the five conversions he was offered, while wearing jersey 22. The guy did the basics of his role well, that's all you can ask for from a replacement and he did just that. 6 metres from his lone carry was a bonus.
Reserve Utility Back - Chase Tiatia (9/10)
You wouldn't have known that Tiatia wasn't initially named to play based on his performance at centre, when coming on for Tupaea. An incredible 39 metres, 2 defenders beaten and 2 clean breaks from a mere 3 carries. 8 tackles was solid as well. Insane for only 27 minutes of game time.
* = Bradley Slater's father, Andy Slater, and uncle, Gordon Slater, both played for Taranaki and the Hurricanes. Gordon played test rugby, Andy did not. At the time of publishing, the article stated that it was Gordon Slater who was Bradley's father. Apologies are directed towards any unintended harm.