A worrying injury to Brendon Leonard and citings against Richard Kahui and James McGougan have clouded an outstanding win for the Chiefs in South Africa.
Ian Foster’s side scored an emphatic 28-10 victory over the Cheetahs in Kimberley to go top of the table in an extremely tight Super 14 playoffs race.
But victory has come at a price.
Leonard, the All Blacks No 9 who has been the form halfback of the tournament, has picked up a sternum injury that looks as though it will end his tour.
Duncan Johnstone writes for Rugbyheaven Aus that Chiefs coach Ian Foster said Leonard’s injury would be assessed over the next 24 hours but it was highly likely they would need to fly over a replacement.
The initial diagnosis suggested Leonard could be out for two weeks.
The Chiefs face the Bulls and Stormers over the next two weekends as they look to capitalise on their table-topping position that comes after six consecutive wins.
David Bason is the halfback in the Chiefs wider training group back in New Zealand.
Toby Morland did an outstanding job off the bench when he replaced Leonard and Foster was rich in his praise for the impact the Chiefs’ reserves made.
The Chiefs trailed 6-7 at halftime but responded with three second half tries to secure and rare – and crucial win – in South Africa.
Foster revealed there were citings hanging over Kahui and McGougan that would occupy a fair bit of their time in the next day.
Tighthead prop McGougan was cited for allegedly trampling on a player in the 58th minute of the match.
Classy centre Kahui was in trouble for an alleged dangerous tackle on Cheetahs replacement Frans Viljoen in the 78th minute.
The hearings were to be held in Kimberley on Sunday (local time).
Kahui had shrugged off a hip injury to start against the Cheetahs and was an influential figure.
The Chiefs wouldn’t want to be without him for their match against the Bulls in Pretoria next week.
It is unlikely they will have wonder wing Sitiveni Sivivatu for that match. He is still in New Zealand with his shoulder injury and a decision on getting him to South Africa has yet to be made.
Chuffed at being at the top of the table, Foster said is was now a matter of “trucking on” and sticking to the formula that had got them this far.
He was clearly thrilled with the effort of his team overnight.
“We are delighted. We really targeted this first game. It was important for us to get our confidence up b winning in South Africa,” he said.
“It was a big psychological win for us … the team are feeling good.
“There were a couple of variables that we worked hard on – coming back from the bye and the travel and playing first at altitude.
“So there were a few things we had to deal with and I thought it was a fantastic result for us. I’m very proud of them.”
Foster said while the first half didn’t produce the points, he believed it set up the win.
“We dominated possession and territory. I guess you have to give a lot of credit to their defence. They were very staunch and they made us work for everything. We had a few linebreaks and opportunities that we weren’t able to capitalise on.
“So it was a little bit frustrating at halftime but we did feel that we had taken a lot of energy out of their legs and we just wanted to keep playing at that tempo.
“I think the fitness of the team is good and certainly the way the boys off the bench are able to up the ante and contribute … that last 25-30 minutes was really positive for us.
“I think in the second half we found our rhythm and our second wind.
“This was a good solid win. I thought our set piece was good and our scrum was relay strong.”
The Chiefs now travel to Cape Town where they will base themselves at sea level for the next two weeks. They will fly up to Pretoria for their clash with the Bulls and then return to the cape to play the Stormers.
“We think that’s the best way to do things. It will add some variation to our three weeks away,” said Foster.Tweet