Chiefs grab bonus-point win over Highlanders

Waikato wing Lelia Masaga scored twice as the Chiefs outplayed Otago Highlanders 39-24 in an all-New Zealand Super 14 clash in Hamilton on Saturday.

Masaga scored either side of halftime as the Chiefs piled on six tries to secure a bonus point and remain in the top half of the standings midway through the season.

The Highlanders earned a consolation point for scoring four tries but remained stuck at the bottom without a single win from six matches.

“We’re pretty stoked with this win,” Chiefs captain Mils Muliaina said in a televised interview.

“We had a bit of a lapse in the first half but we’re pretty happy with the win. I thought our forwards played well tonight and we had a couple of moments of individual brilliance in the backs as well.”

The Chiefs threatened to run riot when they opened up a 22-0 lead inside the first 25 minutes with tries from scrumhalf Brendon Leonard, loose forward Liam Messam and Masaga, but took the foot off the accelerator once they had the game won.

The Highlanders cut the margin to 10 points by halftime with tries from wing Fetu’u Vainikolo and lock Hoani MacDonald but the Chiefs reasserted their control when Masaga notched his second a minute after the re-start.

MacDonald scored his second try to give the Highlanders a glimmer of hope of pulling off an upset but tries by flyhalf Stephen Donald and Muliaina ended their chances.

Replacement Mike Delany scored a touchdown in the last minute to earn the Highlanders their fifth bonus point of the year but they were still winless.

“To score four tries was a positive,” Otago skipper Craig Newby said

“Our game plan was to play it tight and avoid too many turnovers ... but unfortunately we had a case of butter fingers and they capitalised on our mistakes.

“The pressure that we’re under at this level is what creates mistakes.
We’ve got a reasonably inexperienced side and when some of the more experienced guys start making mistakes that sort of compounds them.” - Reuters

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