Two tries in the first ten minutes of the second-half saw the Chiefs establish a telling 21-3 lead. It was an advantage built on the back of ill-discipline from Matatū.
The southerners conceded a succession of penalties and when captain Alana Bremner was yellow carded in the 44th minute they were punished by Ariana Bayler whose quick tap resulted in Pia Tapsell muscling over from close range to double the Chiefs’ score.
The Chiefs would go coast to coast a few moments later when Renee Wickliffe broke shortside from inside her 22 and combined with Ruby Tui in a sweeping movement.
Down 21-3, the Matatū bench added palpable zeal. A rolling maul fractured just short of the line but Julia Gorinski was able to hurdle over a ruck and cut the deficit to 21-8 in the 59th minute.
Wickliffe slipped through again but a crafty steal from Matatū veteran Steph Te Ohaere-Fox saw replacement prop Lucy Anderson stampede 30-metres uncontested before Renne Holmes and Grace Steinmetz finished with aplomb in the corner.
With 15 minutes left, and a scoreline of 21-13, there was a possibility of an unlikely comeback but those hopes were dashed when Chiefs hooker Luka Connor rumbled clear in the 70th minute. The former Black Fern was busy and bustling, and alongside lock Chyna Hohepa and blindside Victoria Edmonds was perhaps the pick of the Chiefs forwards.
Earlier Liv McGoverne opened the scoring with a 25-metre penalty for Matatū but the Chiefs looked more threatening. Ironically, the Chiefs would score the first try from an unfortunate intercept. Matatū wing Martha Mataele made a piercing break only to have her attempted pass to an outside supporter picked off by Black Ferns flyer Portia Woodman.
There is a lot to like about both teams and with greater discipline Matatū is a realistic chance to flip the result in Thursday’s season-proper rematch. Their last try was a worthy reward for a stronger finish.
Chiefs: (28) Portia Woodman, Pia Tapsell, Renee Wickliffe, Luka Connor tries; Kelly Brazier 4 conversions) Matatū: (20) Julia Gorinski, Grace Steinmetz, Terauoriwa Gapper tries; Liv McGoverne penalty, Renee Holmes conversion)