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Under-par Chiefs triumph over Sunwolves

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/04/2017

Damian McKenzie of the Chiefs runs away to score a try. © Phil Walter/Getty Images/Getty Images Damian McKenzie of the Chiefs runs away to score a try. An under-par Chiefs have wasted a golden chance to secure Super Rugby bonus points, defeating the Sunwolves 27-20.

Despite heavy losses in successive weeks to the Crusaders and Highlanders, the Japanese outfit managed to contain the Chiefs' understrength side, missing the likes of Brodie Retallick and Tawera Kerr-Barlow.

They fought their way back from a 27-10 deficit to get within a try of victory, before successfully repelling the Chiefs at the death - with just 13 men - to secure their first ever bonus point on Kiwi soil.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, will now find themselves on the back foot in their quest to win the congested New Zealand conference.

"A tough night is the right way to put it - mainly due to our own errors," Chiefs co-captain Sam Cane said.

"We're winning ugly at the moment."

Sunwolves' Kotaro Matsushima (R) tackles Chiefs' Aaron Cruden during the Super Rugby match between New Zealand's Chiefs and Japan's Sunwolves at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton on April 29, 2017. © MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP/Getty Images Sunwolves' Kotaro Matsushima (R) tackles Chiefs' Aaron Cruden during the Super Rugby match between New Zealand's Chiefs and Japan's Sunwolves at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton on April 29, 2017. The Chiefs wasted no time seizing the upper hand in Hamilton, with veteran rake Hika Elliot barging over from close range within four minutes.

A Sunwolves penalty goal followed after a period of pressure on the Chiefs line, before winger Solomona Alaimalo extended the Chiefs' lead in the 24th minute.

The Sunwolves looked at least on-par with their Kiwi adversaries for parts of the first half, but the Chiefs took the air from their lungs just seconds before the break through a Damian McKenzie try down the left edge.

Up 20-3 at half-time, they struggled to find their groove in the second half and were quickly pegged back by wily ex-Highlander Fumiaki Tanaka.

After a series of offensive scrums, the Brave Blossoms halfback managed to squeeze his way onto the post with a pick and drive.

Sunwolves' Yu Tamura (L) is tackled by Anton Lienert-Brown of the Chiefs during the Super Rugby match. © MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP/Getty Images Sunwolves' Yu Tamura (L) is tackled by Anton Lienert-Brown of the Chiefs during the Super Rugby match. Just as the Sunwolves appeared on the ascendancy, however, the Chiefs again wrested back control of the contest through a piece of McKenzie magic.

Collecting a pass on the left edge, the two-cap All Black whizzed past three men in a hook-shaped run for the line in the 60th minute.

A try to Sunwolves midfielder Derek Carpenter and a further penalty goal then made the final moments interesting, before the Chiefs' late efforts were thwarted despite the sin-binning of Carpenter and dismissal of Jamie-Jerry Taulagi.

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