Late surge by Chiefs

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport -

The Chiefs have come from be­hind to se­cure an un­likely 34- 34 draw against the Bulls in Pre­to­ria.

Hav­ing trailled by 16 points with 11 min­utes to play, the Chiefs put on a stun­ning at­tack­ing dis­play in the fi­nal 10 min­utes to pull it back with tries to Gareth An­scombe, Matt Sy­mons and Aaron Cruden.

Coach Dave Rennie will be ru­ing a woe­ful 50 min­utes in the mid­dle of the game, where the Bulls were dom­i­nat­ing ter­ri­tory and forc­ing mis­takes.

Sub­sti­tute Gareth An­scombe gave the Chiefs a sniff with 11 min­utes to play, fin­ish­ing off a stun­ning run of play which started in­side the Chiefs own 22m.

An­scombe, Au­gus­tine Pulu and Tim Nanai-Wil­liams ex­changed neat passes on the right wing in lit­tle space, in­clud­ing a de­light­ful bas­ket­ball pass from Pulu which set An­scombe free for the try.

An­scombe kicked the con­ver­sion, re­duc­ing the deficit to nine points with 10 min­utes re­main­ing.

Pot­gi­eter added an­other penalty, but then Sy­mons gave the Chiefs fur­ther hope with a try with four min­utes re­main­ing.

Re­place­ment hooker Ma­honri Sch­wal­ger found Pulu with a trick li­ne­out 10m from the try line, and af­ter tak­ing it close, Sy­mons did the rest. An­scombe missed the con­ver­sion, which proved costly.

Then it was time for co-cap­tain Cruden to step up.

Asaeli Tikoiro­tuma broke free up the mid­dle of the field with time al­most ex­pired and then found Cruden on the in­side.

Cruden found his way to the cor­ner and just pressed the ball onto the try line chalk.

That meant An­scombe had to slot a con­ver­sion inches from the left side­line, hav­ing missed an eas­ier kick three min­utes ear­lier.

With nerves of steel, An­scombe slot­ted it down the mid­dle to se­cure the Chiefs an un­likely draw.

Ear­lier, Mils Mu­li­aina opened the scor­ing for the Chiefs in the 13th minute, fin­ish­ing off a ruth­lessly ef­fi­cient at­tack.

Hav­ing won the ball back af­ter a Bulls knock-on in­side their own 22m, the Chiefs rum­bled up field, mak­ing sev­eral yards ev­ery time they ran the ball up.

Aaron Cruden then opened a gap up for Mu­li­aina with a pin-point pass, and the vet­eran did the rest to claim his first try since re­turn­ing to New Zealand rugby.

The Chiefs were in again five min­utes later, with co-cap­tain Liam Mes­sam fin­ish­ing off a swift coun­ter­at­tack as the Bulls’ de­fence be­came as brit­tle as a jenga pile.

On at­tack it was a dif­fer­ent story for the Bulls, as they found ter­ri­tory easy to come by and camped out in­side the Chiefs half.

Flanker Deon Stegmann had the Bulls’ first try of the match af­ter 30 min­utes, as the pres­sure on the Chiefs’ de­fence fi­nally told.

The Bulls’ su­pe­rior li­ne­out gave a solid base for the maul five me­tres from the line, and Stegmann was the man with the ball as they crossed the line.

Spring­bok leg­end Vic­tor Mat­field was caus­ing havoc for the Chiefs at li­ne­out time, and Chiefs hooker Rhys Mar­shall was over­throw­ing all of his tar­gets.

Jacque-Louis Pot­gi­eter made the most of some Chiefs’ ill dis­ci­pline, slot­ting three first half penal­ties, while Cruden was wonky with his kick­ing, slot­ting only one of his three first half penalty chances.

Af­ter the break the Bulls were back in­side the Chiefs half, and made that pres­sure pay early on.

Af­ter win­ning their own li­ne­out just out­side the Chiefs’ 22m, the Bulls for­ward pack steam rolled over the Chiefs for­wards, be­fore be­ing pulled down just short of the line.

Ref­eree Craig Jou­bert awarded a penalty try, and sent Chiefs’ lock Matt Sy­mons to the bin.

They were in again four min­utes’ later when winger Bjorn Bas­son cre­ated a bit of in­di­vid­ual magic.

Af­ter step­ping around teenager An­ton Lienert-Brown, Bas­son put in a grub­ber kick be­fore chas­ing it down and scor­ing in the cor­ner.

Chiefs 34 (Mils Mu­li­aina, Liam Mes­sam, Gareth An­scombe, Matt Sy­mons, Aaron Cruden tries; Cruden 2 con, pen, An­scombe) Bulls 34 (Deon Stegmann, penalty try, Bjorn Bas­son tries; Jac­ques-Louis Pot­gi­eter 2 con, 5 pen). HT: 15-14

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