GET THAT INTO YOU – CHIEFS MAKE EMPHATIC START TO SUPER RUGBY

Chiefs Celebrate Win Over Crusaders

No-one should have been surprised by the Chiefs outstanding 31-10 win over the reigning champion Crusaders in Christchurch in last Friday night’s opening round of Super Rugby Pacific.

It was more the margin of victory and how the Chiefs shut the Crusaders out in the second half coming back from an early 0-10 deficit to score 31 unanswered points in an opening round in which the Western Force were the only home team to win.

AbsolutelyFamous gets the inside gossip from Christchurch rugby club stalwart and former Canterbury cricket rep Kit Chambers.

Kit was liaison man for the Chiefs and apart from being very impressed with them off the field, he was equally impressed with the demolition job they did on Scott Robertson’s team on their home patch, a place they rarely taste defeat.

Interestingly Kit observed in the changing sheds afterwards there were no wild celebrations in fact he said it was very quiet and although obviously pleased with the win, he felt they also realised it was early days and they were more focussed on backing that effort up next game.

"The Chiefs were obviously pleased with the win, but I felt they also realised it was early days and they were more focussed on backing that effort up next game."

Damien MacKenzie - Brilliant !!

This is a great rivalry between these two outstanding franchises and the Chiefs did the same in round-robin play last year only to trip up in a close fought semifinal.

The Chiefs have been building for a couple of seasons now under their astute and no-nonsense head coach Clayton McMillan and the big difference this season is the return of their mercurial play-making backline star Damian McKenzie.

He lit the fuse after the Crusaders looked like their usual selfs early on and shot out to a 10-0 lead.

Starting at first-five, McKenzie showed that not only is he an attacking weapon with ball in hand but he also has the smart kicking game to go with his other very large back of tricks.

He completely outplayed Richie Mo’unga who like quite a few of his team-mates looked under done and off the pace when the heat came on in the second half.

Ethan Blackadder was everywhere

At first glance the new focus by referees to speed up the game and have more ball in play looked to be working very well, Kit Chambers confirming that the Chiefs players told him they noticed the up tempo pace and were certainly blowing at times during the match.

Both teams unfortunately suffered what could be significant injury blows. All Blacks hopeful and Crusaders number eight Cullen Grace lasted just a few minutes before damaging his previously injured shoulder (His replacement Christian Lio-Willie was outstanding on debut) and Chiefs mid-field back Anton Lienert-Brown suffered an ankle injury.

At first glance the new focus by referees to speed up the game and have more ball in play looked to be working very well, Kit Chambers confirming that the Chiefs players told him they noticed the up tempo pace and were certainly blowing at times during the match.

Still too much aimless kicking in most matches for me and a weakness of the Crusaders is that neither of their top two halfbacks Willie Heinz nor Mitch Drummond are a running threat.

Mark Talea - Untouchable !

Over-all week one of the competition featured some wonderful attacking rugby, albeit with a typically high error rate in round one.

Highlight was the brilliant attacking rugby on display from Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland where a late Drua try clinched them a thrilling 36-34 victory, coming back from an early 0-12 deficit. Daniela Rakuro’s last minute try on debut capped off a brilliant match which showcased all that is great about Pacific Island rugby.

The Hurricanes kicked their campaign off in impressive fashion in Townsville, beating a shell-shocked and totally outplayed Queensland Reds team 47-13, while the Blues sent an ominous warning about their firepower with a brilliant 60-20 in over a very ordinary Highlanders team under the roof in Dunedin.

In the Australian derby the Western Force bounced back after trailing early for a very good 34-27 win over the Melbourne Rebels in Perth, while the Brumbies edged out the Waratahs 31-25 in Sydney.

Retirement -"Extreme way of getting out of preseason"

Jeremy Thrush - retired one week and match winner the next

In Super Rugby Aupiki opening round, which featured some great action and several of the victorious World Cup winning Black Ferns on display, defending champions Chiefs Manawa stormed back in the second spell to overwhelm Hurricanes Poua at Levin 53-21, while at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin the home team Matatu nudged out the Blues in a 33-31 thriller.

We will have a separate story on that competition later this week and hope to feature an interview with Chiefs Manawa head coach Crystal Kaua.

Absolutely Famous regular Alex Nankivell showing great early season form - Photo By Tony Stretch

TALKING POINTS FROM OPENING ROUND OF PACIFIC SUPER MEN’S RUGBY

Making an early play for selection in the All Blacks World Cup squad: Chiefs midfield back Alex Nankivell, fullback Shaun Stevenson, first-five Damian McKenzie and their team-mate, halfback Brad Webber.

Sam Cane showing the form that has seen him play so many tests for the All Blacks and his fellow forward, lock Brodie Retallick and blockbusting hooker Samasoni Taukei’aho were excellent.

Crusaders flanker Ethan Blackadder showed once again an insatiable work rate on his welcome return from injury.

Hurricanes hooker Asafo Aumua, Blues winger Mark Talea, the individual standout of the round and Blues first-five Beauden Barrett were excellent.

Super Rugby Pacific shifts to Melbourne this weekend for the super round featuring all the teams in action from Friday night through to Sunday.

Give us your thoughts on last weekend’s thrilling rugby action from both the men’s and women’s competitions and listen to my (John Alexander) interview with Chiefs liaison man in Christchurch, Kit Chambers.

Look out for more insights into the Super Rugby competition when I interview Western Force CEO Tony Lewis later this week

Story by John Alexander | Supporting Images sourced by Absolutely Famous.

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