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Chiefs vs Reds Result: Playoffs bring out the best in the Chiefs and lead them to victory over the Reds

Anton Lienert-Brown and Damian McKenzie celebrate the Chiefs' victory over the Reds. Photo / Photosport

Chiefs 43

Red 21

The return to knockout rugby has brought out the best in the Chiefs.

After the Chiefs finished fourth after a solid regular season and thus earned the right to advance to the quarterfinals, the Chiefs' encounter with the Reds in Hamilton was considered by many to be the most exciting game of the round.

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But within 20 minutes, the Chiefs had all but decided the matter.

A goal difference in the first 24 minutes saw the hosts record a 43:21 victory. This was probably their best performance of the season so far, in which they put the visitors under pressure in defense and applied pressure in attack.

Although the Chiefs finished the season with a 9-5 record, this performance should remind everyone of what they are capable of when they are at their best.

“We have a lot of confidence,” captain Luke Jacobson told Sky Sport after the game.

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“I think we are in form at the right time. We are at our peak. You don't have to do that during the season, it counts in the final and that is our only goal.”

Defensively, the Chiefs were outstanding, with ten starting players making double-digit tackles – led by Jacobson's 23 – as they worked hard to either get the ball on the breakdown or get it over the top on their counter-attack.

Tupou Vaa'i and Samipeni Finau shone with their defensive prowess, newcomer Wallace Sititi looked like an experienced Super Rugby player on either side, while Samisoni Taukei'aho scored a first-half brace – only his second game in which he scored all season – and backed it up with a first-class night in his core areas.

The attack was largely smooth, the right options were chosen and consistently well executed. Damian McKenzie pulled the strings superbly, while Shaun Stevenson showed his ability to break up the field on a number of occasions with his passing, kicking and running. The midfield worked hard, the wings showed flashes of their finishing instincts and the front row was solid too.

The Chiefs got off to a strong start when Anton Lienert-Brown was on hand to make a dominant tackle after a great chase and the Chiefs got the ball back on their counter-attack. Shortly after, Taukei'aho fought his way through a handful of defenders from around 5m out to open the scoring.

While the Reds were unable to break through the Chiefs' defence, the hosts made good use of the width of the pitch to create and exploit space.

When Sititi Emoni sent Narawa over the goal after a beautiful pass from Shaun Stevenson left the number 8 free on the right wing, things did not look good for the visitors.

Another try from Taukei'aho followed and Etene Nanai-Seturo scored a fourth try in the first half before a penalty from McKenzie gave the team a 31-0 lead at the break.

The Reds fought their way back into the game in the second half and were rewarded with a couple of tries by Tate McDermott and another by Lawson Creighton, but it was too little, too late as the Chiefs took a clear victory.

Chiefs 43 (Samisoni Taukei'aho 2, Emoni Narawa, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Anton Lienert-Brown, Bradley Slater tries; Damian McKenzie 5 cons, penalty)

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Red 21 (Tate McDermott 2, Lawson Creighton tries; Tom Lynagh against, Creighton 2 against)

HT: 31-0

Christopher Reive joined the Herald And he brings the same versatility to his reporting that he brings to his sports viewing habits.