Chiefs all but extinguish Force’s finals hopes in record Tron trouncing, injury concerns for Dmac


The Chiefs have moved up the Super Rugby ladder and are one step closer to securing top-four finish and a home-quarter final, putting on a commanding display over the Western Force in Waikato.

Trailing 29 – 7 at halftime, the Force were their own worst enemies for much of the game, with discipline and execution at the ruck falling short on multiple occasions. Off the back of a strong set-piece performance, the Chiefs piled on nine tries – including a hattrick to winger Daniel Rona – to win 56 – 7. 

The win is the biggest the Chiefs have ever managed over the Western Australian side, besting their 53 – 10 victory in 2016. However, it was not all good news for the Waikato side, with star Damian McKenzie limping off in the 56th minute with an apparent HIA concern.

Missing the kick-off in the first ten seconds and conceding three penalties in the first three minutes, the Force struggled to keep pace in the opening half hour, as tries to Emoni Narawa, Rona and Tupou Vaa’i and a flawless night from McKenzie saw the hosts pick up the bonus point in the opening twenty minutes.

Referee James Doleman during the round 11 Super Rugby Pacific match between Chiefs and Western Force at FMG Stadium Waikato, on May 04, 2024, in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

The Force came back well in the final ten minutes of the half, earning a penalty try – however, they were unable to double their score going into halftime, with Sam Spink held up over the try line.

Ill-discipline proved costly early in the second half, as the Chiefs piled on a further five tries in the second half to push the hosts past fifty – with the result capped off when referee James Doleman sent Hamish Stewart to the bin off the back of repeated infringements.

The visitors were forced to make 153 tackles – and missing 21 one of them – giving Simon Cron and his coaching team a lot to unpack. The penalty count also saw them concede 12 penalties – double that of the Chiefs – with discipline and basic errors stifling momentum.

HAT-TRICK for Daniel Rona ????????#SuperRugbyPacific #CHIvFOR

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) May 4, 2024

Captain Jeremy Williams admitted post-game that “I don’t really have much words for that.”

“I think we were our own worst enemy, with our discipline, piggy-backing them in our 22, they just capitalised on it.

“At the backend of that first half we kinda gained a bit of momentum, but in the second half we struggled to slow their ruck speed and they just played on top of us.”

The news wasn’t all positive for the Chiefs, with McKenzie forced to depart for an apparent HIA in the 56th minute after copping a tough hit from Izack Rodda. He was also joined on the sidelines by talented lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi, who was forced from the field in the first half.

Until his subbing, McKenzie was in strong form for the Waikato side – having a stellar night with the boot and orchestrating several of the game’s best highlights.

While the Chiefs’ momentum was maintained after his departure, the kicking from Emoni Narawa and Josh Ioane left a lot to be desired, which could be cause for concern should Dmac’s injury prove more significant.

However, despite the injury concerns, the Chiefs took confidence in a strong return for All Black Luke Jacobson capping off a dominant front row display, with winger Daniel Rona also featuring strongly – picking up three tries for his efforts.

Kauvaka Kalvelata impressed in his debut for the Waikato side, while scrumhalf Cortez Ratima also pressed his case for All Black consideration, keeping the foot on the throat after Dmac had departed.

The Force also were hit with injury concerns, with Issak Fines-Leleiwasa being forced from the field with an apparent ankle injury mid-way through the second half – a concern for Cron after Nic White was ruled out earlier this week with a knee injury.

However, they look to have an exciting halves talent on their hands in Junior Wallaby Henry Robertson, with the young scrumhalf impressing off the bench in his debut Super Rugby match.

The hosts will travel to Auckland next week to face Moana Pasifika, before making the journey across to Melbourne to face the Rebels.

Conversely, tonight culminates sees a winless fortnight on the road for the Force in New Zealand, and is a significant dent in their rapidly diminishing finals hopes.

The Roar Rugby Podcast is on YouTube! Click here and subscribe to make sure you never miss an episode

Anchored at the bottom of the ladder, the WA franchise now has to win every single game to be considered a mathematical chance – with the Super Rugby Predictor giving them a 9% to make finals. 

They will be home for the next fortnight, welcoming the Fijian Drua and the New South Wales Waratahs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.