You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
After a week where Super Rugby refereeing decisions had come under fire, the new round was an opportunity to let the past rest.
But when the Chiefs met the Reds in Hamilton to open the round, it began as the last round ended – with a questionable decision robbing a team of what looked to be a sure try.
Chiefs winger Etene Nanai-Seturo appeared to have opened the scoring for the night inside the opening 10 minutes when he dove over in the corner. In real time, you couldn't fault the play, however after referee Angus Gardner sent it to TMO Glenn Newman to check the grounding, it came back down as a knock on.
Unlike the decision that robbed the Crusaders of a try last weekend, this decision didn't prove costly as the Chiefs closed out a 19-13 win.
There were promising signs from an All Blacks perspective in what was an unpolished game of rugby, with Sam Cane's play the highlight. In his first start since fracturing his neck in October last year, Cane was physical, charged into contact and hit as hard as ever. He also got stuck in at the breakdown and secured a number of extra possessions for his side in 50 minutes of work. With No 6 Lachlan Boshier following his lead, the pair were a formidable duo for the Reds to deal with.
For Chiefs coach Colin Cooper, he can be happy with how his side defended throughout the contest. The Reds seemed to dominate the time on the football and strung phases together trying to break the Chiefs' defensive line. The Chiefs were forced to make 240 tackles and maintained their intensity for the full 80 minutes.
The hosts looked set to make it a long night for the Reds as they dominated the opening exchanges. Moments after Nanai Seturo's first effort was ruled out, the Chiefs opened the scoring through a strong solo effort from No 8 Pita Gus Sowakula who bumped off defenders to get across the line from about 20m out. He was followed over by prop Atu Moli in the 23rd minute and, with Nanai-Seturo crossing on the stroke of halftime the Chiefs took a 19-6 lead into the break.
The second half was a different story as the Reds had all of the ball and all of the territory. The comeback began when prop Taniela Tupou went over in the 56th minute and, with a hop in their step, the Reds lifted.
For the final 20 minutes of the match, it was a one-sided affair. The Reds attack seemed to be on a training run as the Chiefs could not get their hands on the ball.
But while they had no attacking football, their defence was impeccable. Making 155 more tackles than the Reds and seeing off 193 carries, the Chiefs ground out a victory to be proud of.
Chiefs 19 (Pita Gus Sowakula, Atu Moli, Etene Nanai-Seturo tries; Marty McKenzie 2 cons)
Reds 13 (Taniela Tupou try; Bryce Hegarty con, 2 pens)