After being thumped by the Highlanders, the Chiefs suddenly look like a side destined to fall short at Super Rugby’s business end.
(Photo credit: Fairfax media via Google Images)
Damian McKenzie should have been awarded a try, but once again a controversial TMO decision halted the Chiefs only real attacking opportunity on the try line that the night had to offer.
There is no denying that questions surrounding the performance against the Highlanders have to be asked.
Saturday night was the worst peformance of the season – bar none.
Ball handling was terrible, lack of structure with attacking ball, and a controversial TMO decision was the story of the night for the Chiefs.
The Chiefs didn’t score a try – the only points came from the boot of Damian McKenzie.
The Highlanders however played with relative ease.
The men from the south ran in tries at will, earning a convincing bonus point victory and moving ahead of the Chiefs in the Super Rugby table.
The Chiefs as a side looked completely unbalanced.
The swapping of positions between the McKenzie brothers will be speculated, especially given that Damian McKenzie seemed to have locked in the starting first-five role only to be moved again heading into the most important game of the season.
Augustine Pulu didn’t repeat his heroics from Rotorua, and impactful players like Anton Lienert-Brown, Bryce Heem, and Hosea Gear were taken completely out of the game by a Highlanders side who were superior from kickoff.
Looking at the match, it is hard to say that the likes of Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, or even Sonny Bill Williams would have had anymore of an impact on the result either.
The Chiefs have been hit hard by injuries, but the depth of the reserves has proved itself. There is the talent to win this competition still – but it is fleeting quickly.
The Chiefs are still going to be there or thereabouts come playoffs time, but there is a lot of uncertainty over the side that many called favorites prior to the season beginning back in February.
The Chiefs next game is against the Reds in Brisbane.