Super Rugby: Chiefs tame Lions to return to top of New Zealand Conference
Last Updated: 03/05/14 12:25pm
Charlie Ngatai (C): Went over for the Chiefs during comfortable win over the Lions
Defending Super Rugby champions the Chiefs returned to something like their best form with a 38-8 win against the lacklustre Lions in Hamilton.
The Chiefs' first victory in three matches takes them back to the head of the New Zealand Conference.
After recent defeats Chiefs coach Dave Rennie gave his team a shake-up, making nine changes to the team thrashed by the Brumbies in Canberra last week.
The Chiefs led 19-3 at the break and were good value for that margin. Charlie Ngatai caused his opponents some problems early on and went close to scoring, though it was the visitors who took the lead when Elton Jantjies slotted over a penalty after the Chiefs had collapsed a scrum.
Lions full-back Chrysander Botha had to leave the field after coming off the worst in a clash of heads with Dwayne Sweeney and soon after the Chiefs forwards began to take control.
Showing great composure, they worked the ball into opposing territory before Gareth Anscombe crossed out wide for the game's first try, adding a tricky conversion himself.
Hooker Nathan Harris had a try ruled out by the video referee for an obstruction in back play, but it didn't halt the Chiefs for long.
Tanerau Latimer was able to extend their lead with a try three minutes before the break, before Ngatai squeezed over just before the hooter, completing a double-blow for the South Africans.
The game was gone when they compounded that by turning over cheap possession early in the second-half and five phases later it was Pauliasi Manu who was able to power his way under several defenders to score his team's fourth try.
There were some occasional moments of magic from the Lions, including when skipper Warren Whiteley made a bust down the left, beating several men on a 50-metre run.
Although he didn't score, he gave his team a great platform from which Elton Jantjies sent winger Courtnall Skosan diving over.
The Lions pack were not short of effort, but they were outplayed on the night by the opposing eight and the points were well and truly secured for the Chiefs when Andrew Horrell's kick behind the defensive line was well read by Bundee Aki, who was first to the ball to record his seventh try in the competition.
Dwayne Sweeney's run down the right flank caused further problems for the Lions' defence, before a switch of play to the left presented Tim Nanai-Williams with the opportunity to step his way through a weary defensive line to round off a convincing win.
Super Rugby 2014 Round 12
Queensland Reds prop James Slipper and Highlanders forward Brayden Mitchell both handed three-week bans.
The Bulls ended a four-match losing streak as they beat the Cheetahs 26-21 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.
Stormers moved off the bottom of the Super Rugby table as they edged the Highlanders 29-28 at Newlands.