Chiefs survive Rebels scare to remain top of Super Rugby
Last Updated: 17/03/17 12:55pm
The Chiefs survived a huge scare from the Rebels to win their Super Rugby clash 27-14 in Melbourne on Friday and stay top of the ladder after four rounds.
The winless Rebels were coming off a 71-6 thrashing at the hands of the Hurricanes in their last outing and were expected to pose little threat against the high-flying Chiefs.
But the Chiefs were severely tested by the Rebels and only secured a hard-fought victory with two late tries.
The Rebels led at one stage in the second half after going into the break 7-3 down, but the Chiefs replacements proved the difference and gave the visitors a bonus-point win to keep them ahead of fellow New Zealand outfit the Canterbury Crusaders.
The Rebels started the match with plenty of aggression and were evenly matched in the opening stages.
After both teams missed early penalty shots at goal, the Chiefs opened the scoring midway through the first half with lock Dominic Bird, who collected the loose ball close to the line and dived over.
Damian McKenzie added the extras to give the visitors a 7-0 lead, which soon became 7-3 following a Jackson Garden-Bachop penalty.
The Rebels took an unlikely 8-7 lead five minutes after the restart when high-profile rugby league convert Marika Koroibete scored in the corner from a superb flat pass from Garden-Bachop.
A second Garden-Bachop penalty saw Melbourne go four points clear but after the Chiefs held on against some relentless Rebels attack, they struck back when lock Brodie Retallick crashed over at the back of a rolling maul.
McKenzie's conversion made it 14-11 to the Chiefs with 12 minutes remaining.
Two minutes later Chiefs replacement Jonathan Faauli was penalised for a no-arms tackle and Garden-Bachop levelled proceedings at 14-14, but a McKenzie penalty put the visitors back in front only five minutes from fulltime, before late tries to Sam Cane and Shaun Stevenson saw the visitors home.