Chiefs second half blitz sinks Waratahs

Saturday, June 3, 2017    Jamie Wall    

While it was a night for Stephen Donald, who celebrated his 100th match for the Chiefs with a fine shift at second five, two men leaving NZ rugby at the end of the season had games that showed everyone just how much they’ll be missed.
Winger James Lowe and halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow put in sensational performances, both scoring tries and playing a huge part in another dominant Chiefs victory.

Their two brilliant scores just after halftime by the Chiefs effectively ended the match at Waikato Stadium as a contest. Lowe’s came off a trick lineout and reverse pass by the halfback, then returned the favour by setting up Kerr-Barlow a couple of minutes later after some Damian McKenzie magic.

The Chiefs dominated the entire first half, with the Tahs only points coming off a late penalty to Bernard Foley. Earlier, McKenzie and Lowe lit up the first half with tries to give the home side an 18-3 lead at the break.

The Waratahs did their best to make the highlight reel, with prop Sekope Kepu scoring a try that will go viral in no time. Late in the game the big man rumbled 40 metres down the sideline, swatting off Aaron Cruden and McKenzie before slamming the ball down in the corner. That gave the Tahs the slightest hope with five minutes to go, but a two score lad was too much for the visitors.

The hope was snuffed out shortly after when Lowe crossed for his hat-trick, making sur that any All Black wing injury crisis has plenty of depth to cover.

That makes it yet another win for the New Zealand conference over the Australian one, and there’s every reason to think that will continue for the rest of the season. Australian rugby really needs a shot in the arm right now, however the lingering confusion over whether one of their teams will be axed needs to be addressed before any forward steps are taken.

The Chiefs now have a huge showdown next weekend against the Hurricanes in Wellington, the one team that they are in direct competition with for second place behind the Crusaders in the New Zealand conference. While the hype right now is about the Lions, that game cannot be missed.