Super Rugby Aotearoa: Damian McKenzie penalty goal seals Chiefs win in golden point thriller

A huge Damian McKenzie penalty goal has sealed a 26-23 victory for the Chiefs in golden point to enhance their grand final prospects.

All Black McKenzie had a chance to break the 14,487 Highlanders fans hearts in Dunedin as the siren went in regular time, but his miss ushered in the first extra time in Super Rugby Aotearoa history.   

After Josh Ioane missed a relatively simple drop-goal attempt from right in front, Lienert-Brown won a breakdown penalty to give McKenzie another chance to win it. 

From 48 metres out - almost the same spot where he missed his previous attempt - he made no mistake, sending the Chiefs to 12 competition points, just two behind the Blues in second place.

Both sides were desperate for a win to close the gap on the Blues and it was the visitors who made the better start.

In the sixth minute, Etene Nanai-Seturo finished off a great team try, which started when Quinn Tupaea offloaded to Brad Weber who in turn dished it off to Nanai-Seturo to finish acrobatically in the corner.

The home side - who were looking to back up their shock upset victory over the Crusaders - only needed four minutes to strike back when James Lentjes finished a set play straight off the training ground.

From a lineout drive, Lentjes dummied and went down the short side to confuse the Chiefs defence to crash over in the corner. 

McKenzie and Highlanders first five Mitch Hunt both missed two simple opportunities of their own off the tee to keep it tight going into halftime. 

The home side stormed out of the sheds to level the scores when Shannon Frizell - fresh from re-signing with the Highlanders - barged through a big hole in the visitor's defence before offloading to Aaron Smith to grab his sides second try.

The sides traded penalty goals before the Chiefs looked like they had the killer blow when Angus Ta'avao finished a great team try to put his side up by ten. 

But the Southerners never gave up and Josh Ioane - who was looking to impress after being dropped last week for breaking team protocol - scored the 'Landers third try to close the gap to three. 

With four minutes remaining, Luke Jacobson gave away a breakdown penalty right in front to give Ioane a chance to level it, which he made no mistake with.

With time up, McKenzie had a chance to win it, but his penalty goal missed to send it to golden point. 

Damian McKenzie
Damian McKenzie Photo credit: Photosport

The home side won the toss, and choose to kick off, and had the first opportunity to win it when Ioane looked like being the hero as he dropped back in the pocket but missed a drop goal from right in front. 

Just a minute later it was McKenzie who was lining up another penalty goal attempt, which he made no mistake to give the Chiefs their third win on the trot. 

The Highlanders losing ways have continued at home winning only two games at Forsyth Barr Stadium since the start of 2020, and one of those wins was the victory against the Hurricanes last August that was played behind closed doors due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Chiefs 26 (Nanai-Seturo, Ta'avao tries, McKenzie 2 conversions, 4 penalty goals) Highlanders 23 (Lentjes, Smith, Ione tries, Hunt penalty goal, Ioane conversion, penalty goal)