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Chiefs clear the cobwebs

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Sportal.co.nz     02 Mar 2013     Getty Images

With their defence under question after last week's 41-27 win over the Highlanders, the defending champions showed a defensive performance showcasing why they secured their maiden title last year.

A sharp rise in intensity from the hosts in the second half was too much for the Cheetahs to cope with as they rattled off six tries – five of them in the second half – to secure a comfortable victory.

Ultimately it was the Chiefs' ability to absorb a significant number of Cheetahs charges early and convert a majority of the opportunities presented to them that proved to be the difference.

The hosts' bonus-point win was as much about defence as it was offence as they ensured the visitors were left with no opportunities to eat into a significant margin.

Chiefs first five-eighths Gareth Anscombe's accurate start to the 2013 season continued as he scored a try, kicked six conversions as well as a penalty for a personal tally of 20 points.

Cheetahs No.10 Johan Goosen didn't fare as well, converting just one of four penalty opportunities to ensure his side had a tough mountain to climb.

In the end that mountain proved too big for the Cheetahs to overhaul and they slumped to their second successive defeat.

For the Chiefs, two wins from as many matches has continued a satisfying start to their title defence, with the only dampener

Fireworks and fanfare ushered the defending champions onto their home ground for the first time since the 2012 final, but it was the visitors who provided much of the entertainment in the opening quarter.

The visitors' attacks were duly rewarded when Johan Goosen kicked his first penalty of the night after 15 minutes.

The hosts replied almost instantly through Gareth Anscombe after Cheetahs lock Frans Viljoen and Johan Sadie were both ruled offside by referee Mike Fraser.

The penalty sparked the hosts into action, and in the 26th minute it was Chiefs captain Liam Messam who scored for the hosts, bringing up his 23rd try in his 98th appearance.

Pulu was pinged once more by Fraser, but Goosen's wayward kick let the hosts off the hook.

Resuming after half-time with a new spark, the hosts overpowered a fading Cheetahs outfit. The first sign came minutes into the second half, when an inability to clear the ball under pressure saw chiefs prop Ben Afeaki benefit from some outstanding defending by lock Brodie Retallick.

An attempted clearance kick from Goosen was charged by Retallick before Afeaki picked up the scraps on the wing to walk two metres to score his first try in Investec Super Rugby.

The Chiefs were at it again minutes later through Fiji-born winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma thanks to a slick backline move and when Aaron Cruden setup Anscombe for the bonus point try the fans knew their side was back to vintage form.

Two quick tries to replacement hooker Rhys Marshall and replacement prop Ben Tameifuna hammered the difference between a title-winning side and one desperate for competition points.

Chiefs 45 (Liam Messam, Ben Afeaki, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Gareth Anscombe, Rhys Marshall, Ben Tameifuna tries; Anscombe 6 con, pen) Cheetahs 3 (Johan Goosen pen) HT 10-3.