Chiefs break down Cheetahs
The Chiefs ran in five second-half tries to see off a determined Cheetahs outfit 45-3 at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday.
The scoreline doesn't do the Cheetahs any justice who really took the game to the defending champions in the first half, and held their hosts to a slender seven-point (10-3) lead at half-time.
It was the visitors who dominated the majority of possession and territory, though they simply failed to turn pressure into points with pivot Johan Goosen missing four kicks at goal in the opening forty minutes.
The Chiefs only had a converted try to skipper Liam Messam and a Gareth Anscombe penalty to show for their efforts before the break. But in a tale of two halves, the home side then clicked into a higher gear and never looked back.
Goosen was not the only Cheetah to be off-song as handling errors and misdirected passes meant they failed to cross the Chiefs line despite frequent charges by Lappies Labuschagne taking them within striking distance.
Ben Afeaki scored the Chiefs second try a minute after half-time when a defensive clearing kick by Goosen was charged down and the Chiefs' prop was on hand to snap up the loose ball and dive over the line.
As momentum began to switch to the Chiefs, the Cheetahs hung on as long as they could until the floodgates opened in the final quarter, allowing Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Anscombe, Rhys Marshall and Ben Tameifuna to cross for tries.
Tries: Messam, Afeaki, Tikoirotuma, Anscombe, Marshall, Tameifuna
Cons: Anscombe 6
Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam (c), 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Ben Tameifuna, 18 Craig Clarke, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Charlie Ngatai, 22 Patrick Osborn.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Frans Viljoen, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Landman Ligtoring, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Riaan Smit, 22 Ryno Benjamin.
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)