A double from Rod Davies sank the Chiefs as the Reds surprised all with a bonus point victory in Hamilton.
The rampant Reds outmuscled the Chiefs, leading 14 – 10 at half time and running out 31 – 23 victors.
The match got off to an exciting start, the Reds opening the scoring with a try from Rod Davies, an intercept which saw the winger run in untouched. The Chiefs hit back through Bundee Aki, and actually had the lead at one point, until the Reds scored their second. Jake Schatz’s try took the lead away from the Chiefs, and the Reds led from that point.
Both teams coughed up opportunities, but the Reds made more and scored their fourth try, a second for Davies, early in the second half. The Chiefs made plenty scoring opportunities, but could not finish as loose passes and poor handling errors cost them the match. The fifty-fifty passes simply did not go to hand, and impatience killed the Chiefs on the night.
The Reds looked like the Champion team of two years ago, having all their big name players in Will Genia, Quade Cooper and captain James Horwill in top form. Genia was simply magnificent, creating the second Davies try from an immaculate pass, and just generally being everywhere on the park. His linking with Quade Cooper, not only on attack, made this Reds team tick, and a team without either of them would simply not get anywhere.
For the Chiefs, they need to go back to the drawing board and work on playing what is in front of them. They attempted the fast attacking game, but the Reds defence was up to the task. Their attacking chip kicks simply did not work as Genia or Cooper was always positioned to take care of it.
The Reds next host the Brumbies, a match that will determine which Australian team takes the conference. The Chiefs travel to Sydney to take on the Waratahs next week needing a win to keep their number one status in the New Zealand conference.
By Richard Ferguson