Rugby: Chiefs bounce back to edge Kubota Spears in final Japan pre-season hitout

The Chiefs have survived a hard-fought contest with Kubota Spears to emerge 35-30 victors in their final Super Rugby pre-season outing in Japan.

The NZ side ran in five tries to four and were forced to sweat out a nervous final five minutes, as a late Spears dotdown set-up a nailbiting finish.

Ultimately, the Chiefs held on to ensure they leave Japan with a win under their belts, after being well beaten in their first match last weekend.

Chiefs players celebrate a try.
Chiefs players celebrate a try. Photo credit: Getty Images

All Black Anton Lienert-Brown's addition added plenty of punch to the Chiefs midfield, combining with Quinn Tupaea to great effect.

Powerhouse wing Peniasi Malmali was another Chiefs standout, wreaking havoc among the Spears defence all afternoon at Tokyo's Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium.

The Chiefs took a 21-8 lead into the sheds at halftime, courtesy of tries to Tana Tuhakaraina, Jared Proffit, and Cortez Ratima, who finished an 80m movement for the try of the match.

The hosts immediately wrestled back some momentum in the second half, scoring a try through Hiroyuki Yamasaki and adding a penalty to reduce their deficit to five points.

Bradley Slater's 57th minute try was cancelled out minutes later by the Spears, before Hamilton Burr put the Chiefs 12 points clear with 15 minutes to play.

Yamasaki's second try with four minutes to play kept the match afloat, but the Chiefs defence held on to secure victory.

The Chiefs now return to Hamilton to prepare for their final pre-season hitout against the Blues in Auckland next Friday.

Chiefs 35 (Tuhakaraina, Proffit, Ratima, Slater, Burr tries; Jacomb 4 conversions, Ioane conversion) Kubota Spears 30 (Yamasaki 2, Saita, Nezuka tries: Vailea con, 2 penalties, Shimada conversion)