The first round of Super Rugby began on Friday as the Chiefs hosted the Highlanders in Hamilton and the Melbourne Rebels travelled to Canberra to take on the Brumbies.
Chiefs v Highlanders
In the first of Friday’s two games, the Chiefs fell to a three-point defeat to the Highlanders as they came out on the wrong side of a 27-30 scoreline.
First-half tries from Angus Taavao-Matau and Super Rugby debutant Etene Nanai-Seturo put the Chiefs in a strong position at halftime with a 19-10 lead.
A second try from Nanai-Seturo on 49 minutes after a crossfield kick from out-half, Orbyn Leger, put the Chiefs into a 24-13 lead but the Highlanders hit back with a converted try through Shannon Frizell which narrowed home side’s lead to just four points.
The Highlanders then suffered a huge blow on 67 minutes when Sio Tomkinson saw a straight red card for a head high tackle on Brodie Retallick.
Despite the man disadvantage, the away side looked the more dangerous as the game neared its end and scrum-half Aaron Smith crossed the line with less than four minutes remaining to give the Dunedin based franchise a great start to their Super Rugby campaign.
Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels
In Friday’s second game, another away win was secured as the Melbourne Rebels produced a strong second-half performance to overcome the Brumbies in Canberra.
Three tries apiece were scored in the first half as the lead changed multiple times but it was the home side who went in at the break with a narrow 22-19 advantage.
Aided by the wind in the second half, the Rebels took control and scored through Anaru Rangi and Jack Maddocks while three points from the boot of Quade Cooper put the result beyond doubt.
The Brumbies got a consolation try with just two minutes remaining through Sam Carter but it was too little too late as the Rebels recorded an impressive away win.