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Anscombe's boot makes difference for Chiefs

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Saturday, April 12, 2014    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

The Rebels, who have never won outside Australia, made a valiant effort in the final quarter to secure the win as the possible effects of the return from South Africa earlier in the week caught up with the home side.

However, the home defences held and the Rebels had to make do with a bonus point for finishing with seven points.

Needing to make a good start, the Chiefs achieved, but then instead of building on their advantage they frittered it away with mistakes at crucial stages. As the Rebels built into a potentially winning possession in the last five minutes, the home team lost replacement prop Pauliasi Manu to the sin-bin for taking down the Rebels lineout maul.

Visiting captain Scott Higginbotham immediately called for a scrum against the seven-man home team five metres out from the goal-line. But a resulting penalty was tapped by the Rebels, only to be lost in the tackle and cleared by the Chiefs.

The introduction of Luke Burgess at halfback midway through the game lifted the enthusiasm and intensity of the Rebels as they battled back from a good start made by the Chiefs who scored at a point a minute pace in the first quarter.

He found good allies in lock Luke Jones, who had one of the highest work rates of either team on the night, and second five-eighths Mitch Inman who was a midfield rock.

Anscombe had an early taste of the goal-kicking action to settle any nerves he may have had about assuming the first five-eighths role after Aaron Cruden's injury by landing penalty goals in the second, seventh and 11th minutes. But it was his run from a ruck which split the visiting defence.

Flanker Sam Cane was quickly in support and from the breakdown it was lock Michael Fitzgerald who picked up the ball and drove over in the 14th minute.

Outstanding during the first were the Chiefs front row, props Ben Tameifuna and Jamie Mackintosh and hooker Rhys Marshall, the first two dominating the Rebels scrum and Marshall with punishing runs with the ball in hand.

The forward dominance also allowed halfback Augustine Pulu a rare degree of latitude and he made the most of to open up the defences with probing runs while also kicking precisely into the box.

The Rebels battled to even get into the game and managed few attacking sorties of consequence in the first half.

But they turned that around in the second half and in the 43rd minute left wing Tom Burgess burst into the backline, off a good pass from Burgess. He charged toward the line and from the breakdown it was hooker Shota Horie who picked up the ball and drove over for the try which with Woodward's conversion pulled the Rebels back to 13-19 down.

Both teams had opportunities to extend their scores but failed to make the most of them. Jones featured prominently throughout the game and in the build-up to a potential try he threw himself into the action appearing three times with the ball on the break.

However, the ball was stolen on the Chiefs line by Bundee Aki and replacement wing Jordan Payne chipped ahead, and then toed ahead the rebound to take the ball to the Rebels goal-line where a desperate effort by first five-eighths Bryce Hegarty saved the day.

In the resulting lineout drive Rebels captain No.8 Scott Higginbotham who had a less than amicable night with the law book was sin-binned for a cynical penalty and in resulting play a penalty opportunity was turned into points by Anscombe.

Scorers:

Chiefs 22
(Michael Fitegerald try; Gareth Anscombe con, 5 pen) Rebels 16 (Shota Horie try; Jason Woodward con, 3 pen). HT: 19-6