/ 5 March 2010

Reds spoil Chiefs’ homecoming

The Reds broke the Chiefs’ unbeaten Super 14 run with a surprise 23-18 win in Hamilton Friday.

The Chiefs won their first three clashes away from home in South Africa and Australia and seemed set for a spectacular homecoming after scoring three unanswered tries in the opening quarter.

But the Reds — more formidable this season under new coach Ewen McKenzie — scrambled their way back through a powerful and disciplined forwards display and flashes of brilliance from halfback Will Genia and flyhalf Quade Cooper.

The resurgent Reds went into the break 18-13 down but scored a spectacular try and kept the flagging Chiefs scoreless in the second half.

Despite the absence of several experienced players through injury, the Brisbane-based team have earned respect this year, thanks in part to the brilliance of captain Genia, a constant danger with darting runs behind the pack.

“Attitude’s a big thing we’ve shown, we really wanted to change and its shown through in our performances,” Genia said afterwards.

“We know its just a start and we want to keep it going.”

The Chiefs scored three tries to two but Cooper’s boot was the difference for the Reds, kicking 13 points from three penalties and two conversions.

In contrast the Chiefs flyhalf Stephen Donald landed only one penalty, with several other attempts going wide.

The Reds teenage fullback Luke Morahan put his team into the lead and on course for their second victory this season in spectacular fashion midway through the second spell.

He sprinted 60 metres to connect with a long speculative kick and left the Chiefs’ speedy defence gasping in his wake as he went in under the posts.

The Chiefs had themselves largely to blame for their predicament, with their forwards losing the battle at the breakdown and set pieces, and their attacks often ending in handling errors.

Defeat seemed a dim prospect in the opening quarter when All Black winger Sitiveni Sivivatu struck first after just two minutes, evading four tackles on his way to the line.

Opposite winger Lelia Masaga added another five points seven minutes later, taking the last pass after the ball sped through the backline from one touchline to the other.

Prop Sona Taumalolo scored the third midway through the spell but the tide turned when Reds winger Will Chambers scored the visitors’ first try after 26 minutes. — Sapa-AFP