HAMILTON, New Zealand (AP) The Hamilton-based Chiefs conceded two early tries but rallied to beat the New South Wales Waratahs 39-27 in Super Rugby Saturday, halting the new-found success of Australian teams against New Zealand rivals.
Winger Cameron Clark and center Curtis Rona scored converted tries, both from set pieces, to give the Waratahs a 14-0 lead after 13 minutes but the Chiefs hit back with three tries to go 19-14 ahead at halftime.
Winger Tony Pulu added a fourth try early in the second half to hand the Chiefs a 24-17 advantage before the Waratahs made it 24-24 thanks to a try by Kurtley Beale.
As rain then began to fall, the Chiefs resorted to a more direct style, using their forwards to drive the ball through the middle.
A kick from scrumhalf Brad Weber created another try for Pulu but a Waratahs penalty cut their deficit to two points and set up a thrilling finish.
Flyhalf Damian McKenzie booted a penalty eight minutes from time to make the lead five points and added a try after the siren to clinch a bonus-point win for the Chiefs.
”We knew it was always going to be tough, especially coming back from Africa,” Chiefs captain Charlie Ngatai said. ”The Waratahs in the last couple of weeks have proved to be a strong side so I’m proud of the boys’ efforts.”
The Waratahs had snapped Australia’s 40-match losing streak against New Zealand teams in Super Rugby when they beat the Dunedin-based Highlanders last week, but this time came up against a Chiefs team containing some senior players returning after injuries.
Bernard Foley played his 100th match for the Waratahs Saturday.