It simply does not get any better than that! When Bradley Slater scored for the Chiefs just after the break, the Highlanders looked to be dead and buried. However, someone forgot to tell the visitors! The Highlanders worked their back into their match and, with the last three tries of the match, they managed to pinch the points with the very last play of the match. Heartbreak for the Chiefs who led virtually from start to finish yet, despite their efforts, remain winless at the bottom of the Super Rugby Aotearoa standings. An epic 80 minutes at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton comes to an end with the Highlanders recording a thrilling 33-31 victory over the Chiefs in a match that will long be remembered!
The Chiefs started like a house on fire and scored two tris in quick succession to lead 14-0 within the first ten minutes of the first half. A further penalty converted stretched the Chiefs lead to 17-0 with the resulted yellow card which had the Highlanders with fourteen players on the field.
Twenty seconds in the second quarter the Chiefs forced their way over the tryline of the Hurricanes to stretch their lead to 24-0. The Chiefs third try shocked the Highlanders into action and after they camped a good seven minutes in the Chiefs 22m managed to put their first points on the score-board with a converted try to trail 7-24 at the halftime break.
The Chiefs started the second half with their fourth try after just three minutes. This time the Highlanders hit back almost immediately with a brilliant try to trail by 31-12. The game opened up a lot in the third quarter and the promise of open running rugby is a reality. A brilliant try by the Highlanders reduced the lead of the Chiefs to 31-19.
An action-packed last quarter first score came with only five minutes to go. A Highlanders try made sure that the last five minutes would be one of action, action and action. The Highlanders needed a converted try to win and they just did that with the stadium clock on 81 minutes in this action-filled game. One of the greatest comebacks with the Highlanders that pinched it at the death with 33-31.
The Chiefs will visit the Blues while the Highlanders will have a bye.
Chiefs: Tries: Lachlan Boshier, Anton Lienert-Brown, Bradley Slater (2). Conversions: Damian McKenzie (4). Penalty: Damian McKenzie.
Highlanders: Tries: Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith, Jona Nareki, Patelesio Tomkinson. Conversions: Mitch Hunt (4).
Highlanders: 1. Ayden Johnstone, 2. Ash Dixon (cc), 3. Siate Tokolahi, 4. Paripari Parkinson, 5. Jack Whetton, 6. Shannon Frizell, 7. Dillon Hunt, 8. Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 9. Aaron Smith (cc), 10. Mitch Hunt, 11. Scott Gregory, 12. Patelesio Tomkinson, 13. Rob Thompson, 14. Josh McKay, 15. Michael Collins. Replacements: 16. Liam Coltman, 17. Ethan De Groot, 18. Jeff Thwaites, 19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20. Jesse Parete, 21. Folau Fakatava, 22. Josh Ioane, 23. Jona Nareki.
Chiefs: 1. Aidan Ross, 2. Bradley Slater, 3. Nepo Laulala, 4. Tupou Vaa’i, 5. Mitchell Brown, 6. Lachlan Boshier, 7. Sam Cane (C), 8. Pita Gus Sowakula, 9. Brad Weber, 10. Kaleb Trask, 11. Solomon Alaimalo, 12. Alex Nankivell, 13. Anton Lienert-Brown, 14. Sean Wainui, 15. Damian McKenzie. Replacements: 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17. Reuben O’Neill, 18. Ross Geldenhuys, 19. Adam Thomson, 20. Mitchell Karpik, 21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22. Aaron Cruden, 23. Quinn Tupaea.