Anton Lienert-Brown impressed in the Chiefs’ win over the Rebels. Photo / Getty Images
The Chiefs might be relying on some wild Australian miracle for their chances of competing in the Super Rugby transtasman final, but the faint hope of being one of the last two teams standing remains.
After a wild 36-26 win over the Melbourne Rebels in New South Wales, the Chiefs remain a mathematical chance of making the final, though they would need to get a bonus point win over the Waratahs, and need the Crusaders, Highlanders and Hurricanes all to lose their final match of the competition.
It’s an unlikely scenario, but after the disappointment of falling short against the Reds a week ago, the Chiefs showed plenty of heart to ensure that unlikely scenario did not become an impossible one.
The Chiefs were dealt a blow early in the match against the Rebels, losing lock Josh Lord to a failed HIA test after sustaining a blow to the head that eventually led to his left eye closing over.
That brought Mitchell Brown into the game just three minutes into the contest, and he was immediately in the action – though not in the most ideal way. Chiefs wing Shaun Stevenson looked to have scored the opening try of the game inside the opening 10 minutes, but it was ruled out as Brown was deemed to have obstructed a defender.
The Chiefs didn’t have to wait too long to open the scoring, however, with Stevenson reeling in a cross-field kick from Bryn Gatland, before sending Kaleb Trask away on his inside.
Having plenty of success through the middle with the ball in the hands of Quinn Tupaea, Pita Gus Sowakula and Anton Lienert-Brown, it was unsurprising to see the Chiefs add to the scoreboard in that fashion with Tupaea and Lienert-Brown linking up for the latter to score.
When he scored his second of the day moments later to extend the score to 19-0, things looked like they might get ugly for the Rebels – but No8 Isi Naisarani but an abrupt stop to that.
The powerful ball runner scored two tries of his own down the back end of the first half, and with centre Stacey Ili adding one of his own between Naisarani’s double, the scores were level at the break.
The level score didn’t last long, with replacement back Chase Tiatia crossing just four minutes into the second half. The lead was further extended when Trask got his second for the day, but a Rebels closed in again through Andrew Kellaway almost immediately after.
But when Tiatia was cleverly put away by Trask for his second of the game, the margin was comfortable enough to see them home – despite plenty of late pressure from the Rebels attack.
Knowing they had to get as many points as possible, the Chiefs tried to score another try after the siren had sounded in order to earn a bonus point, but ultimately had to settle for the win alone.
Chiefs 36 (Anton Lienert-Brown 2, Kaleb Trask 2, Chase Tiatia 2 tries; Bryn Gatland 3 cons)
Rebels 26 (Isi Naisarani 2, Stacey Ili, Andrew Kellaway tries; Matt To’omua 3 cons)