MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The first match of the season between New Zealand and Australian teams in the Super Rugby Pacific tournament was a convincing win for the Kiwis.
The Chiefs beat the New South Wales Waratahs 51-27 on Friday at Melbourne in the first match of the so-called Super Round when all five matches will be played in the Victorian state capital.
Previously this season the Australian and New Zealand conference sides, including the Fijian Drua and a Moana Pasifika team made up of players mostly from Tonga and Samoa, had played separate schedules due to COVID-19 protocols on either side of the Tasman Sea that separate the countries.
Johan Lowe scored four tries for the Hamilton-based Chiefs. The Waratahs stayed in the match after red and yellow cards in the first half and after losing both of their hookers, David Porecki and Tom Horton, to injury.
Waratahs prop Angus Bell was sent off for a dangerous tackle two minutes into the match and they were down to 13 men when center Jamie Roberts received a yellow card for a deliberate knockdown.
Despite those setbacks, the Waratahs fought back to trail by only three points in the 51st minute when halfback Jake Gordon intercepted a Bryn Gatland pass and dashed more than 70 meters.
The Chiefs then scored an intercept try of their own — Lowe picking off a pass from Welsh veteran Jamie Roberts — and Lowe added two late tries to put the match out of reach for the Sydney-based Waratahs.
A match scheduled later Friday between Moana Pasifika and the Western Force was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak among Force players.
In other weekend matches in Melbourne, the Auckland-based Blues were scheduled to take on the Fijian Drua and the Wellington-based Hurricanes play the Queensland Reds, both on Saturday.
The Super Round concludes Sunday when the Dunedin, New Zealand-based Highlanders play the ACT Brumbies and the Christchurch-based Crusaders take on the host Melbourne Rebels.
Going into the weekend, the Blues and Brumbies were level in first place with 31 points each, with the Reds a point behind. All three have seven wins from their opening eight matches.
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