The Chiefs have plenty of problems to ponder – more about performance than medical – as they reflect on another sloppy start to their Super 14 campaign with Ian Foster’s side suffering consecutive losses, the latest against the Waratahs in Sydney
Duncan Johnstone writes for RugbyHeaven NZ that the Waratahs stuttered their way to an 11-7 win on Friday night, their record eighth in a row at the Sydney Football Stadium following their unbeaten run there last season.
It was a match littered with errors and lacking structure from both teams. But the Chiefs were the worst culprits.
Sure the Chiefs’ injury problems intensified before kickoff when Richard Kahui’s bruised hip failed to respond in time and he joined fellow All Blacks Sione Lauaki and Mils Muliaina on the sidelines.
But they still had enough class out there to do better. Instead they were left with another frustrating loss following last week’s 13-19 effort against the Crusaders.
Playing both of last year’s finalists away was always going to be a difficult opening for the Chiefs.
But they haven’t helped themselves. Their Sydney effort was blighted by regular handling mistakes, aimless kicking and some alarmingly poor set piece work. The lineout throwing was erratic and the scrum abysmal at times.
In the end they even shied away from taking any scrums at penalty times, leaving them no platform to launch their dangers out wide.
The Chiefs’ biggest plus was their dogged defence. That kept them in the match as the Waratahs camped on attack for long periods with little reward.
Even playing this poorly the Chiefs were only a turnover and a breakout away from snatching an unlikely victory.
But it never came and they are left to contemplate their usual predicament at this stage of the season – quickly falling into a game of catchup.
They need some momentum and it needs to come collectively rather than the touches of individual brilliance provided by the likes of Brendon Leonard and Sitiveni Sivivatu.
The star trio of injured All Blacks should return from injury next week and the Chiefs need to click into gear or their season will again be over almost as quickly as it started.
The Waratahs got some reward for their early pressure in the 16th minute when a pin-point Kurtley Beale wipers kick inside the Chiefs 22 found Timana Tahu for the try in the corner.
Sitiveni Sivivatu missed the chance to strike back when he couldn’t quite pick up a Stephen Donald chip kick and knocked on trying to dot down.
But big loosehead prop Sona Taumalolo made no mistake when he barged over from a good Brendon Leonard break.
The Chiefs hung on to lead 7-5 at the break.
The Waratahs were guilty of a sloppy start to the second spell but eventually regained the lead when Beale managed to land his fourth attempt at goal, kicking a penalty after Callum Bruce had made a dangerous tackle on Rob Horne.
Beale snapped over a dropped goal soon after as the Tahs started to take advantage of their field position.
From there they held on with neither side threatening the try lines.
The Waratahs host the Highlanders next Friday while the Chiefs have their first home game, playing the highly fancied Sharks in Hamilton on Saturday.
Waratahs 11: Timana Tahu try; Kurtley Beale pen, dg.
Chiefs 7: Sona Taumalolo try; Stephen Donald con.