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Under-strength Chiefs embarrass Wales

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Lynn McConnell     14 Jun 2016     Getty Images

Embarrassing because of the surfeit of ball, and opportunities for Wales that were undone by a combination with better vision and ball skills to score six tries to one – their biggest provincial defeat in New Zealand.

Hemispherical differences in rugby philosophy could not have been more obvious during a first half especially notable for the lack of appreciation of scoring opportunities by Wales while the Chiefs revealed a level of physicality and vision that was reflected in the 21-0 halftime scoreline.

Then, having seen hardly any ball during the third quarter, the Chiefs conceded a try, but then fullback James Lowe sparked a revival with a strong break. The ball was moved into the 22m area and Lowe was able to go over in the corner.

It was little wonder when he limped from the field, having suffered cramp, the veteran first five-eighths and captain, Stephen Donald was given a standing ovation by the crowd of 17,756.

The Chiefs set their store earlier when Welsh lock Jake Ball had the ball stolen by Michael Allardice in a seventh minute lineout. Good ball off the top saw first five-eighths Stephen Donald used to take the ball to the line, break through Ball's tackle attempt and then flick the ball to halfback Brad Weber who out-paced the cover defence to score.

Wales had several opportunities to strike back but on each occasion they let chances slip. Twice second five-eighths Scott Williams went on his own with men marked outside him and then from a five-metre scrum No.8 James King took the ball and created the chance for halfback Gareth Davies, only to go on his own also.

Flying wing Eli Walker, one of the better Welsh performers on the night, was grounded just short of the line after a backline move stretched the Chiefs defence while centre Tyler Morgan missed a fourth chance.

In another attacking move, first five-eighths Rhys Priestland's superb backhand pass found fullback Matthew Morgan on the right touchline. He linked with Davies who raced into space but was unable to link and he too was grounded just short of the line.

That frustration was extended in the 32nd minute when No.8 Tom Sanders crashed over after the Chiefs did not waste their opportunities in the Welsh 22m area with several charges at the line preceding Sanders' success.

Denied a 37th minute try, after another fine break by Donald who found replacement lock Taleni Seu at hand on a trademark burst to the line, the Chiefs held their composure. While tackled just short, the ball fell clear and Donald made an outstanding pick-up and looked to have scored. However, video evidence didn't support the effort and a five-metre scrum was called.

Donald exhorted his forwards to provide a big scrum and they responded to set up a chance from which lock Dominic Bird stepped like a centre to create an opening and score.

In the second half Wales mounted wave after wave of attacks, holding onto the ball for long periods but unable to make any inroads in the home defence until the 55th minute when they finally got a five-metre lineout drive to work with replacement hooker Kristian Dacey scoring.

Several times Wales eschewed the chance to kick for goal and opted to build a from a lineout drive. But they were unable to repeat and it was the Chiefs who stormed home.

Wing Toni Pulu and replacement centre Sam McNichol scored in the 74th and 78th minutes respectively to complete the pain for the visitors, who now have to regroup ahead of the second Test on Saturday in Wellington.

Scorers: Chiefs 40 (Brad Weber, Tom Sanders, Dominic Bird, James Lowe, Toni Pulu, Sam McNichol tries; Stephen Donald 4 con: James Lowe con) Wales 7 (Kristian Dacey try; Rhys Priestland con). HT: 21-0