Chiefs leave Rebels without a cause
The Chiefs have secured their first Trans-Tasman victory of the season after defeating the Rebels 39-33 in an entertaining encounter at AAMI Park on Friday night.
Any fears of a second quarter meltdown were eased despite a try to Hugh Pyle late in the half to give the hosts a 24-14 scoreline.
Perseverance then paid off as Sam Cane crossed for his side's fifth try to stretch the lead to 17 and ensure the Chiefs made a winning start to playing at AAMI Park.
Chiefs first five-eighths Gareth Anscombe scored three tries for the visitors and kicked three conversions and a penalty for 24 points while James O'Connor kicked two conversions.
A lot of the pre-match hype surrounded the return of Kurtley Beale for the first time since punching two teammates while the side was in South Africa.
His first touch of the ball was a jittery one as he kicked the ball out on the full following Cane's try but he scored his side's fifth try in the 75th minute to rescue a second bonus point for the hosts.
It was almost symbolic of how the Rebels played in general, often misfiring at crucial times while showing plenty of fight when the match was already won.
At times the match was played at too frenetic a pace for both teams to handle. Both sides were guilty of slipping from tackles throughout the match, with Chiefs coach Dave Rennie left pondering just what his side needs to in order to prevent tacklers falling from key runners.
The match was also a chance for O'Connor to push his case for inclusion as a first five-eighths for Australia in their three-game series with the British and Irish Lions in June and July.
For the most part, his kicking game troubled the visitors and his vision to set up Nick Phipps for the side's fourth try via Beale was spectacular.
However, it was the Chiefs' ability to capitalise on the Rebels' mistakes that ensured they returned to the top of the New Zealand conference after the Blues had earlier reached the summit with a 18-17 home win over the Stormers at North Harbour Stadium.
That was symbolised when Brodie Retallick charged down O'Connor's attempted clearing kick to give his side a crucial 13-point buffer with 10 minutes to play.
A late try to Beale reduced the deficit to six before it looked like Cooper Vuna would secure an historic win only Lelia Masaga to take him out.
The Rebels had one more opportunity to score an historic win only for a determined Chiefs maul to win a turnover and the match.
Rebels 33 (Hugh Pyle 2, Scott Higginbotham, Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale tries; James O'Connor 4 con) Chiefs 39 (Gareth Anscombe 3, Sam Cane, Bundee Aki, Brodie Retallick tries; Anscombe 3 con, pen) HT: 14-24.