NEW PLYMOUTH, New Zealand (AP) — The Queensland Reds beat the Hamilton-based Chiefs 25-22 on Friday to end the Chiefs’ 10-match winning streak in Super Rugby Pacific.
The Chiefs weathered challenges from all of the top-four teams in the tournament so far but came unstuck against the Reds who had won only four matches before pulling off one of the biggest shocks of the year.
A paralyzing defensive performance and sound kicking game by the Reds shut down the Chiefs and gave Queensland its first win in New Zealand in 21 matches.
In a relentless team performance, the Reds refused to give the Chiefs any breathing space. They pressured them with kicks and when the Chiefs were in possession, they swept up on defense and snapped the usually reliable conduit of possession between the inside and outside backs.
The Chiefs fought to the end, carrying the ball through 28 phases and eventually over the Reds’ line after the fulltime siren. But the referee determined the ball had been held up by the Queensland defenders and the match ended to the delight of the Reds players.
“It’s unbelievable. We’ve had a pretty poor season and it’s just great to come here and put on a show,” Reds’ captain Tate McDermott said. “I’m just so proud of the boys.
“Obviously we were massive underdogs and coming off a pretty poor result last week. Winning means everything and will give us new life.”
Winger Etene Nanai-Seturo scored two tries in the first half, the first after only six minutes as the Chiefs looked likely again to distance their opponents.
But the Reds hit back on both occasions with tries to prop George Blake and scrumhalf McDermott to keep the match level at 12-12 at halftime time.
The Reds hit the lead for the first time, 17-12, in the 43rd minute with a try to winger Jock Campbell.
The Chiefs nibbled at the lead with a penalty goal but the Reds went further ahead again with a try to prop Zane Nonggorr, his first in Super Rugby.
Again the Chiefs responded and leveled the scores at 22-22 in the 73rd minute with a try to hard-working backrower Samipeni Finau.
Replacement flyhalf Tom Lynagh, son of former Wallabies flyhalf Michael Lynagh, kicked a penalty in the 77th minute which gave the Reds their 25-22 lead and they defended that margin determinedly until the end.
“They wanted it a lot and, no discredit to us, we took a little bit long to get into our phase shape at times, get into what we’re good at,” Chiefs captain Luke Jacobson said. “We got into it at the end there but it was too little, too late.”
In the second match of the night, the Western Force made it two wins for Australian sides on Friday with a 34-14 win over the Fijian Drua at Perth. The Force scored three second-half tries after trailing 14-12 late in the first half. Both teams are now 4-7 on the season.
Folau Fainga’a scored two tries as the Force kicked clear in the second half. They took a one-point lead into the break and a late try to Carlo Tizzano sealed maximum points and their place in the top eight.
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