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Chiefs win close try fest

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Sportal.co.nz     20 Feb 2010     Getty Images

The New Zealand first five-eighths slotted 32 points and added a try to the eight others scored by the 2009 Super 14 runners-up as they claimed a battling victory.

Centre Richard Kahui was also instrumental, netting a hat-trick of touchdowns, although some of the gloss was taken off his performance following a yellow card for a spear tackle towards the end.

There were also three tries for youngster Wandile Mjekevu - the first of his Super 14 career - out of the Lions' nine in total, which all proved in vain.

The visitors began in a hurry and were in front after only three minutes when Callum Bruce picked the ball up at the back of the maul and charged round the outside to touch down in the corner.

Donald added the extras, before the Lions slowly began to settle.

They were awarded a penalty after the visitors' forwards were caught offside - Earl Rose making no mistake with his effort sailing through the middle of the posts.

But Donald added his first three points when Willem Stoltz came shoulder-charging into a tackle.

The hosts missed an easy penalty chance through Rose to cut the lead again, before the full-back converted the next opportunity, which was conceded at a price by the Chiefs - Sione Lauaki sent to the sin-bin following a spear tackle on JP Joubert.

Even with a man less, the visitors still looked superior and Kahui took advantage of miscommunication in the home defence to score between the posts - his first five-eighths again adding the extras.

The Lions were back to within six points before the 20-minute mark thanks to a quick tap-and-go penalty by Joubert, who spread the ball quickly wide to Mjekevu to score the first try of his Super 14 career.

A missed conversion by Rose was followed by the Chiefs being reduced to 13 men - Aled De Malmanche given a yellow card for deliberately collapsing the maul.

This time it proved a hurdle too far as United States captain Todd Clever stretched over after a pass from Doppies la Grange, followed by Carlos Spencer cutting through easily after another quick-thinking pass by Joubert to send the Lions into the lead.

Rose converted both times and, with the numbers coming back to 15 each, Donald's penalty and converted try on the stroke of half time put the Chiefs 27-25 ahead at the break.

Straight from the restart, Liam Messam claimed the bonus-point try for his side when Sitiveni Sivivatu and Lauaki combined well to send the flanker in to score.

Kahui then grabbed his second of the night when he intercepted a Deon van Rensburg pass and raced 60 metres to score, which was followed by his hat-trick try - Jonathan Mokuena tossing the ball straight into his path.

Donald converted all three tries to cap a fine turnaround and further touchdowns from Junior Poluleuligaga and Sivivatu stretched the lead even further.

Another spear tackle, this time by Kahui, led to a third booking of the game for the Chiefs.

That almost opened the door for the home side but late scores from La Grange, Tonderai Chavhanga, two from Mjekevu, Cobus Grobbelaar and Jacques Lombaard only helped the Lions claim the consolation of a second bonus point - the first coming for four tries scored.

Brendon Leonard's try that followed Chavhanga's effort eventually proving crucial as the New Zealanders held on.

Scorers: Lions 65 (Cobus Grobbelaar, Todd Clever, Carlos Spencer, Wandile Mjekevu 3, Doppies le Grange, Tonderai Chavhanga, Jacques Lombaard tries; Early Rose 7 con, 2 pen) Chiefs 72 (Liam Messam, Junior Poluleuligaga, Stephen Donald, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Callum Bruce, Richard Kahui 3, Brendon Leonard tries; Donald 9 con, 3 pen). HT 25-27