Chiefs winger Jonah Lowe has honoured the memory of a fallen former teammate with a four-try performance to spark the Chiefs to a 51-27 victory over the Waratahs, as Super Rugby Pacific opened its trans-Tasman phase at Melbourne.
Last time these two rivals met, another Chiefs winger - the late Sean Wainui - set a new Super Rugby record with five tries in a 40-7 victory over the New South Welshmen.
Lowe could not match that achievement, but he and stand-in winger Quinn Tupaea scored six tries between them to capitalise on the dominance of their forward pack, as their Waratahs counterparts self-destructed twice in the same fixture.
Midway through the first half, the Aussies found themselves down 22-3 and two men short, after prop Angus Bell was shown a red card for a tipping tackle on Chiefs captain Sam Cane, then centre James Roberts saw yellow for a deliberate knock-on.
Restored to their full contingent, the Waratahs managed two tries to captain Jake Gordon and winger Alex Newsome before halftime, trailling 30-17, then quickly closed within three points, with a penalty and another try to Gordon, who intercepted and sprinted 70 metres.
But if momentum had deserted the Chiefs, Lowe - who had scored the game's second try - quickly snatched it back with an intercept try of his own, followed by two more, all converted by first-five Bryn Gatland, to leave the Waratahs in their dust.
The Aussies' forward struggles weren't helped by injuries to starting hooker Dave Porecki and replacement Tom Horton, forcing referee Nic Berry to impose uncontested scrums for most of the second half. While that may have undermined any Chiefs dominance at scrum time, but it also contributed to the Waratahs' lineout confusion, where Gordon and prop Harry Johnson-Holmes shared throw-in duties with mixed success.
"I'm really proud of the boys," said Cane. "The Waratahs put themselves under a wee bit of pressure, down to 13 men early, but I'm really proud of how we didn't overplay our hand and just did the basics really well to come away with some points.
"We let some soft tries in prior to halftime, which was disappointing, but in the second half, we were pretty clinical and took our opportunities."
The Chiefs finished the match with 14 men, after Tupaea drew a late yellow card, and they stay in Australia to meet the Reds in Brisbane next Friday.
Chiefs 51 (Taukei'aho, Tupaea 2 & Lowe 4 tries, Gatland 2 penalties & 5 conversions) Waratahs 27 (Gordon 2 & Newsome tries, Harrison penalty & conversion, Edmed 2 conversions & penalty)
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