Chiefs Rugby Club to host All Blacks test against Tonga

Waikato rugby fans will have the chance to watch the All Blacks in their final hit-out ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019 when the men in black tackle Tonga at FMG Stadium Waikato on Saturday, 7 September.

The first All Blacks test match to be played in Hamilton since 2016, the test will be an important match on the eve of the All Blacks’ tilt at a hat-trick of World Cup titles.

FMG Stadium Waikato was chosen to host the test match after a joint proposal led by Chiefs Rugby Club, and in partnership with the Waikato Rugby Union, events company 37 South Events, and stadium operators H3, which is a division of Hamilton City Council.

“It’s very exciting for the Chiefs Rugby Club to be part of a joint regional effort to attract a fantastic test to FMG Stadium Waikato ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup,” Chiefs Rugby Club chief executive Michael Collins said of the match, which will kick off at 2.35pm. 

“The All Blacks haven’t played in Hamilton since 2016, so we’re delighted to have secured such an important match in their 2019 season. And for those of us not able to be in Japan for the World Cup, it will be a unique experience to witness the World Cup squad play at FMG Stadium Waikato.

“We have worked successfully in partnership with 37 South Events and H3 in the past and look forward to continuing that relationship through this match. We don’t often get the chance to work with the Waikato Rugby Union, so this will be a terrific opportunity to collaborate with Blair Foote and his team and deliver a successful test match experience to the wider Waikato public,” Collins said. 

H3 is a division of Hamilton City Council and operates FMG Stadium Waikato on behalf of the people of Hamilton.

Waikato Rugby Union chief executive Blair Foote reiterated Collins’ comments, saying the union was thrilled to be involved with the match.

“It’s very exciting for us and the region to have test match rugby played in Hamilton. We’re really happy to be able to work alongside the Chiefs to bring this match here, and are looking forward to helping provide a great experience for both the All Blacks and Tongan fans.”

Dallas Fisher, managing director of 37 South Events, said they were delighted to be part of a “significant event”.

“Having the All Blacks play here just before the World Cup, and the interest that will generate, is great for the city and the Waikato region,” he said.

“37 South Events are thrilled to be fulfilling our aims of being involved in major events that benefit the community and region.”

* The easiest way to secure a seat to the All Blacks v Tonga test is to become a Chiefs + HSBC NZ Sevens Member.

For new and existing members, a test match ticket will be automatically put on hold and can be bought when the exclusive purchase window opens in mid-2019. Updates will follow, but for the time being there is no action or payment required.

Being a Chiefs + HSBC NZ Sevens Member gives you a ticket to seven Gallagher Chiefs home matches and a two-day pass to the HSBC NZ Sevens. Members also get Gallagher Chiefs merchandise discounts, a season member gift, the chance to attend exclusive events, first rights to finals tickets, and discounted prices over the season.

For more information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

New players add exciting touch to Gallagher Chiefs

Rising sevens star Etene Nanai-Seturo is looking forward to “joining the Chiefs brotherhood” in Super Rugby next year.

The Counties Manukau speedster, who made his debut for the All Blacks Sevens team in 2018, including scoring a try in the side’s Commonwealth Games gold medal win over Fiji, has been named in the Gallagher Chiefs squad for the 2019 Investec Super Rugby season.

Nanai-Seturo, 19, is one of four Gallagher Chiefs squad members who will hope to make their Super Rugby debuts in 2019, joining Taranaki and All Blacks wider squad prop Reuben O’Neill, New Zealand U20s lock Laghlan McWhannell, and Tongan-born Japan international winger Ataata Moeakiola.

Described by Gallagher Chiefs head coach Colin Cooper as “very quick, with a great work ethic”, Nanai-Seturo said he was thrilled to earn a Super Rugby contract with the Gallagher Chiefs.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to be part of the team,” the former New Zealand Schools representative said. “I’m pretty stoked, but a bit nervous at the same time.”

He said he was excited about bringing his sevens skills to the squad while developing as a 15s player.

“I’m really looking forward to getting into the team environment, training hard, learning from the coaches and players, and being part of the Chiefs brotherhood.”

Taranaki prop O’Neill, 23, has had a rapid rise from provincial player to All Blacks wider squad member without playing a minute of Super Rugby. A versatile prop who can play both sides of the scrum, O’Neill caught the attention of the All Blacks selectors in the Mitre 10 Cup and was named in the wider squad for the Japanese leg of the end-of-year tour.

“I’m really excited and keen to get up there and put my best foot forward,” he said of his inclusion in the Gallagher Chiefs squad.

“I obviously haven’t played Super Rugby before so it’s a whole new level for me, just as being in the All Blacks squad is another level again. But I’m really up for the challenge, and want to keep developing my game – I’m definitely not the finished product so want to pick everyone’s brain, work hard and improve.”

The former New Zealand Schools representative will link up with his former Taranaki coach, Cooper, who said O’Neill was a great addition to the squad.

“He’s a strong scrummager at loosehead and tighthead and through his hard work for Taranaki this season he forced his way into the All Blacks squad. We’re really pleased to have Reuben in the group,” Cooper said.

Lock McWhannell had a stellar New Zealand U20s campaign, which was followed by a strong Mitre 10 Cup season with Waikato. Another player to have come through the New Zealand Schools ranks, the 20-year-old had a taste of Chiefs rugby at the Brisbane 10s tournament this year and said playing Super Rugby with the Gallagher Chiefs had always been a goal.

“I’m stoked. Growing up and going to school in Hamilton, I’ve always wanted to be a Chief, so I’m excited and really keen to get stuck in,” he said.

McWhannell has spent time training with the Gallagher Chiefs, and Cooper said he was an “exciting young player” who would develop under the guidance of All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick.

“I think having Brodie there, I’ll be able to learn a lot from him,” McWhannell said. “I’m really looking forward to being amongst the squad, learning as much as I can, and hopefully helping the team.”

Cooper said Tongan-born Japan international winger Ataata Moeakiola, 22, who they had followed through the Gallagher Chiefs’ connection with the Kobe club in Japan, was an exciting prospect with “huge potential”.

Another two players, who already have Super Rugby experience, are new to the squad.

New Zealand-born utility back Jack Debreczeni, 25, represented Australian Schools and played 42 games for the Melbourne Rebels before returning to New Zealand and impressing for Northland in the Mitre 10 Cup this season.

“Jack’s a very experienced player, is versatile and will add to the mix at 10, 12 or 15. He’s also a good kicker and game driver,” Cooper said.

Samoa age-group representative midfielder Tumua Manu, 25, has played for the Blues and has starred for Auckland in the Mitre 10 Cup this season.

“He’s a quick and physical player – there’s a lot to like about him,” Cooper said.

Strength across the field for Gallagher Chiefs


The 2019 Gallagher Chiefs squad announced today won’t need to look far for inspiration when pulling on the jersey next season.

Star prop Angus Ta’avao was called into the 2018 squad as an injury replacement, but through hard work and perseverance the Taranaki co-captain and former Waratah became an integral member of the team. By September he was donning the All Blacks jersey in his test debut against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

“It’s an inspiring story for all our players – one of don’t ever give up on your dream,” Gallagher Chiefs head coach Colin Cooper said when naming his squad for the Investec Super Rugby competition.

“Angus is a great person and a hard-working player and should be an inspiration to all these young men who have been named today.”

Ta’avao is one of eight All Blacks announced in the Gallagher Chiefs squad, joining fellow one-cap All Black Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, and experienced All Blacks Sam Cane, Brodie Retallick, Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown, Nathan Harris and Nepo Laulala in a squad that boasts a fine balance of experience, youth, speed, strength and skill.

New Gallagher Chiefs signing, Taranaki prop Reuben O’Neill, who has been named in the All Blacks’ wider squad for the Japanese leg of the end-of-year tour, will also bring international experience into the Super Rugby season, as will Māori All Blacks players Shaun Stevenson, Mitchell Karpik and Brad Weber.

O’Neill is one of four players who will hope to make their Super Rugby debuts in 2019, joining exciting All Blacks Sevens speedster Etene Nanai-Seturo, promising New Zealand U20s lock Laghlan McWhannell, and Tongan-born Japan international winger Ataata Moeakiola in the Gallagher Chiefs squad.

Another two players, who already have Super Rugby experience, are new to the squad – former Melbourne Rebels utility back Jack Debreczeni, who was with Northland in the Mitre 10 Cup, and Samoa age-group representative midfielder Tumua Manu, who has played for the Blues and performed well for Auckland this season.

Like Ta’avao, midfielder Bailyn Sullivan, loose forward Pita Gus Sowakula, and outside back Sean Wainui all impressed as injury replacements last season and have been rewarded with contracts for 2019.

Cooper, who heads a settled coaching lineup of assistants Neil Barnes, Tabai Matson, Andrew Strawbridge and Nick White, said he was thrilled with a squad that features 26 players from the Chiefs’ provincial unions of Counties Manukau, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki, and 31 players who were with the side in 2018.

“It’s a very exciting squad, and it’s great to have a good spread of players from throughout the Chiefs region. We’ve retained a lot of players from this year, including a number of our core leadership group, we’ve brought in a group of exciting and talented new players, and some of our injured players are returning, such as Atu Moli, Aidan Ross, Nepo Laulala, Mitchell Brown and Fin Hoeata, who will all make a big contribution and add a lot of depth,” Cooper said.

“That continuity of players working with a settled second-year coaching group is really important in helping us take another step forward in 2019.”

Cooper congratulated and welcomed the new players to the squad and said the coaching group were eager to get started.

“It’s a great environment here and we’re looking forward to bringing the new players into this group, where they will be looked after in a hard-working environment,” he said.

“We want to make sure everyone is on the waka and paddling in the same direction. If we get that right, the performances will come.”

The Gallagher Chiefs begin their 2019 Investec Super Rugby season with a home game against the Highlanders on Friday, 15 February at FMG Stadium Waikato.

2019 Chiefs Season Memberships go on sale tomorrow, 1 November. The membership includes seven Gallagher Chiefs round robin home games at FMG Stadium Waikato and a two-day pass to the HSBC NZ Sevens in Hamilton. Head to or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out more.

2019 Gallagher Chiefs squad


Kane Hames (Tasman)

Aidan Ross (Bay of Plenty)

Reuben O’Neill (Taranaki)

Nepo Laulala (Counties Manukau)

Atu Moli (Waikato)

Sosefo Kautai (Waikato)

Angus Ta’avao (Taranaki)


Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty)

Liam Polwart (Bay of Plenty)

Samisoni Taukei’aho (Waikato)


Brodie Retallick (Hawke’s Bay)

Tyler Ardron (Bay of Plenty)

Laghlan McWhannell (Waikato)

Michael Allardice (Hawke’s Bay)

Fin Hoeata (Taranaki)

Loose forwards

Mitchell Brown (Taranaki)

Taleni Seu (Auckland)

Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty)

Mitchell Karpik (Bay of Plenty)

Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki)

Luke Jacobson (Waikato)

Pita Gus Sowakula (Taranaki)


Brad Weber (Hawke’s Bay)

Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Taranaki)

Jonathan Taumateine (Counties Manukau)

First five-eighths

Damian McKenzie (Waikato)

Tiaan Falcon (Hawke’s Bay)

Jack Debreczeni (Northland)


Alex Nankivell (Tasman)

Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato)

Tumua Manu (Auckland)

Bailyn Sullivan (Waikato)

Outside backs

Solomon Alaimalo (Tasman)

Sean Wainui (Taranaki)

Ataata Moeakiola (Japan)

Etene Nanai-Seturo (Counties Manukau)

Shaun Stevenson (North Harbour)

Marty McKenzie (Taranaki)


A new exciting cup will be up for grabs in Chiefs Country for the upcoming Mitre 10 and Farah Palmer Cup seasons with the Mitre 10 Cup getting underway this weekend.

The four Chiefs provincial unions (Bay of Plenty, Counties Manukau, Taranaki and Waikato) now have more than competition points to play for when they face off against each other in their respective national provincial competition, with the Chiefs Country Cup now on the line to be won.

The first opportunity to win the cup will be this weekend when Bay of Plenty take on Taranaki at Rotorua International Stadium. The winner of this match will hold the cup, and it will then be challenged by the next Chiefs provincial union team, regardless whether the holder is playing home or away.

The Farah Palmer Cup fixture between Waikato and Counties Manukau on September 1 will also decide the inaugural holders of the cup in the Women’s competition who will then seek to defend it throughout the season.

Bay of Plenty Rugby Union are excited to be the first Provincial Union to host the first challenge for the Chiefs Country Cup against Taranaki this weekend.

Mike Rogers, Bay of Plenty Rugby Union CEO said it is a great initiative to be launched by the Chiefs to connect our four Provincial Unions.

“The cup ensures that the rivalries will be at an all-time high between the four provincial unions with even more on the line to play for and provides a great connection between the Chiefs Rugby Club and the four unions and fans.”

The special cup, designed by Dave Burke represents the Chiefs provincial unions playing in the Mitre 10 Cup through the four respective Kaitaiki’s on the design. The design is symbolic of the shape of a heart, representing that the unions are the heartbeat of the Investec Super Rugby team.

The cup’s design also features a Maunga which symbolises all the mountains in the Chiefs region, as well as the waterway and sacred waters that connect the four regions.

We are pleased to announce that props Aidan Ross and Angus Ta’avao have re-signed with the Gallagher Chiefs.

It is a great boost to the front row with Ross and Ta’avao signing on until 2021 and 2020 respectively.

Aidan Ross is very familiar with the Chiefs environment, having progressed through the University of Waikato Chiefs Development programme before entering the 2018 Investec Super Rugby season with a full contract. The Bay of Plenty prop impressed, playing seven games, before his season was abruptly ended with an ankle injury. The young prop made his debut for the Gallagher Chiefs in 2017 as a squad replacement player against the Western Force, and has gone from strength to strength since.

The front rower was ecstatic to re-sign with the club.

"I’m absolutely stoked to re commit to the Gallagher Chiefs - I couldn’t imagine playing my footy anywhere else and I’m pumped to crack into next season.”

Ross represents Bay of Plenty in the Mitre 10 Cup and has played for the New Zealand U20 team and was also in the squad for the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians game against the British & Irish Lions in 2017.

Angus Ta’avao came in to the team as a squad replacement player and was hugely significant throughout the season, playing 17 games and clocking up over 1100 minutes. Ta’avao’s contribution both on and off the field didn’t go unnoticed, picking up the Chiefs Personality Award at the 2018 Gallagher Chiefs Season Celebration.

The 28-year old is vastly experienced, having played for the Blues and Waratahs throughout his career, as well as being a prominent figure for Taranaki in the Mitre 10 Cup.

Ta’avao thoroughly enjoyed his first season with the team and is excited for the seasons to come.

"It’s an exciting time for my family and I as we thoroughly enjoyed our first season with the Chiefs family and it is great to sign on.”

Now in the off-season, the Gallagher Chiefs players will return to their provincial unions for Mitre 10 Cup duties, as well as our All Blacks players who will enter camp ahead of the Investec Rugby Championship. The Mitre 10 Cup kicks off on the 16 August and the All Blacks will play their opening game of the Rugby Championship against the Wallabies on Saturday 18 August in Sydney. 

The Gallagher Chiefs' 2018 season has ended at the hands of the Hurricanes, going down 32-31 in their quarter final at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

After a gutsy 28-24 win over the Hurricanes in Hamilton last weekend, the Gallagher Chiefs were unable to back that up as the home side eventually wore them down in the second half. The Chiefs showed great spirit, making a late push with two tries in the final few minutes, but it was not enough.

The Hurricanes got off to a flying start when, just 40 seconds into the match, wing Julian Savea intercepted a wide floating pass from first five Damian McKenzie and raced away from 50 metres out to score under the posts.

Just minutes later with the Gallagher Chiefs hard on attack, Savea plucked another intercept but this time he was run down 15 metres short of the line.

The Gallagher Chiefs then settled nicely after the frantic start and, after an initial break from second give Charlie Ngatai, space was created down the left wing with halfback Brad Weber on hand to get the last pass from Shaun Stevenson and finish off.

McKenzie converted the Weber try from under the posts to tie the scores after a hectic opening eight minutes.

Beauden Barrett nudged the Hurricanes back in front soon after with a penalty kick, while at the other end the Chiefs were showing their intent - turning down three potential shots at goal to keep the pressure on the Hurricanes defence.

After a long period inside the Hurricanes 22, the Chiefs eventually opted to take the points with McKenzie slotting a simple penalty from right in front to level the scores in the 22nd minute.

Play then swung to the other end of the field with the Chiefs now asked to defend their line, and they were up to the task initially before halfback TJ Perenara squeezed his way over off the back of a five metre scrum.

Barrett's conversion opened up a seven-point lead as the match headed past the half hour mark.

There were some bright moments for the Chiefs late in the half, but no further points were added as the home side went to the break with a 17-10 lead.

The Hurricanes started the second half strongly, looking to extend their lead and take full control of the match, but the Chiefs dug deep on defence to deny them.

Out of nowhere, a clearing kick from Ngatai bounced into the hands of loose forward Lachlan Boshier who charged ahead inside the Hurricanes 22. Quick ball from the ruck then found its way to Anton Lienert-Brown with the centre dotting down handy to the posts, McKenzie adding the extras to tie the scores.

The deadlock didn't last long however as Barrett slotted a 40 metre penalty to retake the lead in the 55th minute.

As the match moved into the final quarter the Hurricanes slowly began building pressure and eventually found their way over the line with Perenara once again darting off the back of a scrum to score.

Substitutions from both sides injected some fresh legs and, with the Hurricanes up by eight and 17 minutes remaining, an exciting finish was on the cards.

Unfortunately for the Chiefs, they were unable to get their hands on the ball as the Hurricanes controlled possession well, and they were rewarded with a fourth try, scored in the left-hand corner by wing Ben Lam.

Trying to chase the game in the final 10 minutes, now needing to score three times, the Chiefs very nearly got the instant reply they needed after a break from Lienert-Brown got them within metres of the line, but the ball was lost.

With time running out, the Chiefs were rewarded for their efforts with two late consolation tries in the final few minutes. Fullback Solomon Alaimalo made a break with McKenzie finishing off under the posts, which was followed by a try right on fulltime to Lachlan Boshier, leaving the Chiefs just one-point short.

Gallagher Chiefs 31 (Brad Weber, Anton Lienert-Brown, Damian McKenzie, Lachlan Boshier tries; Damian McKenzie 3 cons, pen, Charlie Ngatai con) Hurricanes 32 (TJ Perenara 2, Julian Savea, Ben Lam tries; Beauden Barrett 2 cons, 2 pens, Jordie Barrett con) HT: 10-17.

Tomorrow evening, we undertake our biggest test of the season so far, a Quarter Final clash against the Hurricanes in the capital city. 

The winner of this game will propel themselves into the semi final to be played the following weekend. The location of this semi final will be dependent on the winner of the second Quarter Final to be played between the Crusaders and Sharks.

Here are the potential scenarios if the Gallagher Chiefs beat the Hurricanes this Friday:

If the Gallagher Chiefs beat the Hurricanes and the Sharks beat the Crusaders, the Gallagher Chiefs WILL host the Sharks in the semi final next weekend at FMG Stadium Waikato. (Time and date to be confirmed)

If the Gallagher Chiefs beat the Hurricanes and the Crusaders beat the Sharks, the Gallagher Chiefs will travel to Christchurch next weekend to play the Crusaders in the semi final. (Time and date to be confirmed)

On the other side of the Quarter Final draw, the Waratahs face off against southern rivals, the Highlanders in Sydney and the Lions host the Jaguares in Johannesburg. If the Highlanders can win in Sydney, they will either face the Lions in Johannesburg for the semi final or face the Jaguares at home in Dunedin. A Waratahs win will see them travel to Johannesburg for the semi final if the Lions win their respective Quarter Final, or host the Jaguares in Sydney. 

Keep an eye on our channels as we will update you first on the next stage of the playoffs as results unravel this weekend. 


The Gallagher Chiefs are ready to fire again this Friday when they take the field against the Hurricanes in the capital for the Investec Super Rugby Quarter Final.

The two teams faced off against each other in a tense and thrilling New Zealand derby last weekend, where the Gallagher Chiefs proved too strong, winning 28-24, thanks to a dominant first half which saw them run rampant against the Hurricanes defence, leading 21-0 at the break.

Head Coach Colin Cooper emphasised the importance of this game now the team have entered the playoffs and how the team will be giving their all.

“It’s do or die at this point in the season, the winner takes all and we’ve talked about the importance of giving the best you can and your all for the jersey.”

The team is boosted with returns to key players. In the forwards, Karl Tu’inukuafe and Nathan Harris are back in the front row, and notably Sam Cane will start at openside flanker.

In the backs, Damian McKenzie comes back in to First Five-Eighth, with Charlie Ngatai starting at 12 and Sean Wainui slotting back in to right wing.

Cooper is pleased with the consistency throughout the team selected for Friday’s clash

“We’ve put out a consistent team. Damian coming back brings a lot of X Factor into our game. We’re excited to see the combinations Damian, Charlie and Anton will bring as well as the leadership Sam Cane displays every time he takes the field.”

Cooper is aware of the threat the Hurricanes will bring at home and knows the team will have to be aware of their threats all over the park.

“The Hurricanes are going to bring a lot of intelligent skills to the contest. I expect them to use a lot of variety and they have a very good backline so there’ll be lots of threats around the park.”

The Quarter Final kicks off this Friday 20 July at 7:35pm in Westpac Stadium, Wellington. The winner of this Quarter Final will play the winner of the Crusaders v Sharks Quarter Final which will be played the following day on Saturday. If the Crusaders win their Quarter Final, the winner of Friday’s clash will travel to Christchurch for the semi-final, however if the Sharks win, Friday’s winner will host the Durban based team next weekend at home.

The Gallagher Chiefs team to face the Hurricanes in the quarter final is:

1. Karl Tu’inukuafe (15)

2. Nathan Harris (43)

3. Angus Ta’avao (16)

4. Brodie Retallick (97)

5. Michael Allardice (33)

6. Lachlan Boshier (29)

7. Sam Cane (105)

8. Liam Messam (178)

9. Brad Weber (56)

10. Damian McKenzie (64)

11. Shaun Stevenson (32)

12. Charlie Ngatai (54)

13. Anton Lienert-Brown (54)

14. Sean Wainui (14)

15. Solomon Alaimalo (25)

16. Liam Polwart (19)

17. Sam Prattley (9)

18. Jeff Thwaites (11)

19. Jesse Parete (8)

20. Mitch Karpik (12)

21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (16)

22. Marty McKenzie (18)

23. Alex Nankivell (9)

The Chiefs U18 side has been named to take on the National Maori U18 team at Rotorua International Stadium today. Kickoff is at 2:45pm - good luck boys!

  1. Nirai Ririnui (Rotorua BHS)
  2. Chay Jacobs (Taupo Nui)
  3. Tutarangi Anderson (New Plymouth BHS)
  4. AJ Lagilagi Slade (Manurewa HS)
  5. Daniel Johnson (St Paul's Collegiate)
  6. Te Rama Reuben (Rotorua BHS)
  7. Taituha Woller (Te Wharekura O Mauo)
  8. Liam Allen (St Paul's Collegiate)
  9. Kristian Standen (New Plymouth BHS)
  10. Larenz Tupaea (Wesley College)
  11. Jarmahl Hapi (New Plymouth BHS)
  12. Jacob Kneepkens (Francis Douglas)
  13. Josh Calvert (Hamilton BHS, Waikato)
  14. Tama Te Aute (Rotorua BHS)
  15. Tepaea Cook Savage (St Paul's Collegiate)
  16. Irirangi Taniere (Wesley College)
  17. Mairenga Laapo (Francis Douglas MC)
  18. Taane Beach (Wesley College)
  19. Leuatea Alo Tema (Rotorua BHS)
  20. Hemopo Cunningham (Rotorua BHS)
  21. Te Aparua Tata (Te Wharekura O Mauao)
  22. Gabrielle Wilson (Pukekohe HS)
  23. Tuki Simpkins (Rotorua BHS)
  24. Cassius Misa (Rotorua BHS)
  25. Jon Taumetiene (Wesley College)
  26. Kahi Borrell (Te Wharekura O Mauao)
  27. Nicolas Nasila (Wesley College)
  28. Manu Akauola (Rotorua BHS)

The Gallagher Chiefs have warmed up for the Investec Super Rugby playoffs with a well-deserved 28-24 win over the Hurricanes at FMG Stadium Waikato.

Needing to win by a margin of 23 points or more to leapfrog the Hurricanes on the points table, the Gallagher Chiefs jumped out to a 21-0 lead at halftime and hung on for the win, but three second half tries to the Hurricanes was enough to ensure they will host next weekend's playoff match between the two sides.

Despite missing their in-form playmaker Damian McKenzie, who sat out the match as part of his enforced All Blacks rest, the Gallagher Chiefs looked the stronger of the two sides early on, and their positive start was rewarded with the first points of the evening - lock Brodie Retallick marking his return to the side in style, forcing his way over to score from a ruck close to the line.

First five Marty McKenzie, playing in place of his brother Damian, added the conversion for an early 7-0 lead.

Following the Retallick try, the visitors slowly worked their way into the game and were beginning to look dangerous. But then out of nowhere Gallagher Chiefs halfback Brad Weber intercepted a Beauden Barrett pass and scampered away to score from 60 metres out.

McKenzie was again on target off the tee to make it 14-0 after 18 minutes.

The Hurricanes again responded well to conceding points but once again it was the Chiefs who pounced against the run of play. Second five Johnny Fa'auli placed a kicked behind the defensive line which was toed ahead by wing Shaun Stevenson who regathered and then produced a perfect chest pass inside for fullback Solomon Alaimalo to race clear and score a superb try.

As the match approached the half hour mark, McKenzie kicked his third conversion to open up a comfortable 21-0 lead, cutting the Hurricanes' all important points differential to just two.

For the remainder of the first half it was the Hurricanes who held onto possession but the Chiefs were able to keep them pinned inside their own half, with no further score added as the teams went into the break.

Jordie Barrett had a chance to get the Hurricanes on the board early in the second half but he pushed his long-range penalty attempt wide.

They didn't have to wait too much longer for their first points though as a kick return from halfway, led by wing Ben Lam, ended in a try to centre Wes Goosen. Jordie Barrett's conversion narrowed the gap to 14 and stretched the points differential back out to nine.

A scything run from centre Anton Lienert-Brown then thrust the Chiefs straight back onto attack, but some clutch goal line defence from the visitors denied the Chiefs forwards from getting across the line.

With just over 20 minutes remaining, the Hurricanes struck a crucial blow with lock Blade Thomson crossing for their second try which gave his side further breathing space and brought them right back into the match.

To make matters worse for the Chiefs they were then reduced to 14 men for the remainder of the match with second five Johnny Fa'auli shown a red card for a high no arms tackle in the 63rd minute.

This was followed just minutes later by a try to Hurricanes prop Ben May who burrowed over in a pile of bodies, narrowing the Chiefs' lead to just two points.

Shortly after the restart, Brad Weber made a great snipe down the left-hand sideline, coming up just metres short of the line, with loose forward Mitch Karpik on hand to force his way over for the try.

McKenzie nailed the conversion from out wide, leaving the Chiefs with 14 points to score in the final nine minutes to reel in the Hurricanes' points differential.

The Chiefs continued to throw caution to the wind in search of those points, which ended in the Hurricanes having the final say as replacement Julian Savea scooped up a loose pass to score right on fulltime.

Despite the late try, the Chiefs were still able to leave their home fans satisfied with a hard-fought four point victory in their final match of the season at FMG Stadium Waikato.

Gallagher Chiefs 28 (Brodie Retallick, Brad Weber, Solomon Alaimalo, Mitch Karpik tries; Marty McKenzie 4 cons) Hurricanes 24 (Wes Goosen, Blade Thomson, Ben May, Julian Savea tries; Jordie Barrett 2 cons) HT: 21-0.

The Gallagher Chiefs will now head to Wellington next weekend for their playoff match against the Hurricanes.

Our Chiefs U18 team has been named to take on the Crusaders U18 team at St Paul's Colleigate School tomorrow. It is going to be a massive game, so make sure you get on down and support our future talent! Kickoff is 2:45pm.

  1. Pou Sorenson (Rotorua Boys High School)
  2. Bernie Hati (Rotorua Boys High School)
  3. Connar Brunton (Hamilton Boys High School)
  4. Josh Lord (Hamilton Boys High School)
  5. Thomas Martin (Hamilton Boys High School)
  6. Simon Parker (St Peter’s School)
  7. Jake Russ (Hamilton Boys High School)
  8. Andrew Viane (St Peter’s School)
  9. Cortiz Lee Ratima (Hamilton Boys High School)
  10. Rivez Reihana (St Kent’s, Waikato)
  11. Peni Lasaqa (Bay of Plenty)
  12. Lukas Halls (Kings College, Taranaki)
  13. Gideon Wrampling (St Paul’s School)
  14. Valynce Te Whare Crosby (St Paul’s School)
  15. Selesitino Ravautaumada (Rotorua Boys High School)
  16. Corrigan Miller (New Plymouth Boys High School)
  17. Keelan Holten McMullen (Hamilton Boys High School)
  18. Zac Ririnui (Rotorua Boys High School)
  19. Alex McRobbie (St Kent’s, Counties)
  20. Shi Jie Yong (Tauranga Boys College)
  21. Thor Manase (Wesley College)
  22. Manu Paea (Rotorua Boys High School)
  23. Daniel Rona (New Plymouth Boys High School)
  24. Paula Mahe (St Peter’s School)
  25. Blair Murray (New Plymouth Boys High School) 

The Gallagher Chiefs are set to play their last round robin match of the Investec Super Rugby competition this Friday. Going by overall competition points, this is sure to go down to the wire and be full of excitement, with the Hurricanes and the Gallagher Chiefs in second and third place of the New Zealand conference respectively.

Gallagher Chiefs head coach Colin Cooper says the team are ready to put on a show for the home crowd.

"We’re going out there to put on a great performance, it could be our last game at home. We want to make sure that wherever there is an opportunity, that we grab it. We look forward to playing our own game, and are also aware of what the Hurricanes bring.

They showed against the Blues how good they are off the set piece - and we’ve done some work around our set piece defence - but with ball in hand, our focus is on what we can do.”

In the forwards, Sam Prattley gets his first start after effective performances off the bench for most of the season. Brodie Retallick comes back into the number four jersey after six weeks on the injured list, Lachlan Boshier getting a start after returning last week. Rounding out the impactful loose trio are Mitch Karpik and Jesse Parete.

In the backline, Marty McKenzie comes into the number ten jersey, with Colin Cooper confident in his ability to drive the game.

"Marty will be the game driver at number ten, and we are confident that he can control the game really well.” 

Colin reiterated the importance of playing this game in Chiefs Country.

"Our home crowd means a lot to us, and we aim to give them a great performance.”

The game kicks off at 7.35pm at FMG Stadium Waikato this Friday the 13th, with the “Squad Up” theme encouraging all fans to dress up in their best uniforms. The best dressed fans will win some awesome prizes, and the fun zones will be buzzing with school holidays in full swing.

The Gallagher Chiefs team to face the Hurricanes is:

1. Sam Prattley (8)

2. Liam Polwart (18)

3. Angus Ta’avao (15)

4. Brodie Retallick (96)

5. Tyler Ardron (10)

6. Lachlan Boshier (28)

7. Mitchell Karpik (11)

8. Jesse Parete (7)

9. Brad Weber (55)

10. Marty McKenzie (17)

11. Shaun Stevenson (31)

12. Charlie Ngatai (54)

13. Anton Lienert-Brown (53)

14. Toni Pulu (32)

15. Solomon Alaimalo (24)

16. Samisoni Taukei’aho (8)

17. Karl Tu’inukuafe (14)

18. Jeff Thwaites (11)

19. Michael Allardice (32)

20. Liam Messam (177)

21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (15)

22. Tiaan Falcon (2)

23. Johnny Faauli (17)