This past weekend saw the Chiefs breathe some life back into their Super Rugby campaign after dismantling the Blue Bulls on their home ground in Pretoria. After a horror start to the season from Chiefs, where they lost their first five games on the trot, inclusive of a stunning defeat at the hands of the Sunwolves, the re-jigging of their back line seems to be having the desired effect.
The Blue Bulls entered the game after a couple of strong showings in the earlier rounds, as well as fresh of a bye weekend. All indicators were that the Bulls would be too powerful upfront and the high altitude would only further aid their cause in the later stages of the game, as they looked to put the Chiefs to the sword. This however was not to be, with a final score of 56-20 in favor of the visiting side.
In a 7 try blitz, which included two tries either side of half time by Brodie Retallick the Chiefs controlled the game excellently to counter the heavy bulls pack and set their back line free. Damian Mackenzie had been shifted to his preferred position of Fullback and in this game he truly came to the fore. With breath taking runs and cheeky little kicks, the players around him made a meal of it as they recorded their first win in Pretoria since 2001.
The shift of Mackenzie to 15 has to be seen as a permanent one now as he struggled at fly-half during the opening rounds. His electric pace and ability to enter the line on the counter attack at the perfect moments are underutilised when he plays first receiver. The Chiefs back line was far more deadly with him calling the shots from the back. The player himself will likely be keen to stick to 15 as well, as the All Black selections loom and he didn’t have a good showing as first receiver.
The Bulls will be wondering what happened as they came undone so easily in a contest they really should have won. They will also be sweating over the fitness of Duane Vermeulen who was taken off the field in the 34th minute as they prepare for their return clash with home rivals the Sharks in Durban this weekend.
The Chiefs now head off to Argentina to face the Jaguares and will be hoping to build on their momentum as they look to lift themselves from the bottom of the log.
Written by: Nicholas Halsey
Image credit: All out Rugby