Chiefs survive thriller with Drua to clinch home quarter-final

The Chiefs have claimed a home quarter-final for this year's Super Rugby postseason but not without a scare thanks to Fijian Drua.

The Chiefs held on for a 35-34 win over the Drua in their first game in front of a passionate Lautoka crowd.

The humid conditions didn't help the Chiefs, who let a lot of handling errors creep into their game through both high balls and their own attacking platforms.

The Drua's powerhouse runners also made the Chiefs miss a decent amount of tackles.

But there was still plenty to smile about from the match two - for the home fans included - with Fijian winger Emoni Narawa crossing over twice for the Chiefs.

It was also a special homecoming for another Chief in Lautoka-born No.8 Pita Gus Sowakula who was well represented in the crowd.

Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan will also be pleased with Brodie Retallick's return after nine weeks sidelined with a broken thumb as the All Blacks lock got straight into the thick of the action early on.

That early effort was matched by many of the Chiefs, who managed to jump out to an early 14-0 lead at the quarter-way mark thanks to tries from Angus Ta'avao and Bryn Gatland.

Angus Ta'avao runs through a Fijian Drua defender to score.

Gatland's try came off the back of a clever 50-22 kick from Josh Ioane as the tactical kicking game, particularly from centre Rameka Poihipi, proved to be a challenge for the Drua.

Poihipi, not a regular starter for the Chiefs, also nabbed two 50-22 kicks with his second one setting up Narawa to dart down for his first try, setting up the Chiefs with a 21-7 lead at the break.

The hosts came out with a point to prove in the second half though, closing the deficit with two penalties early on before Narawa pushed the lead back out.

The Drua weren't fazed though and appeared to catch the Chiefs fading as they scored three tries in the final 10 minutes of the game to bring the match to 35-34.

However, with the game and a home-quarter final spot on the line the Chiefs dug deep to force one last stoppage after the hooter, bundling an attempted break down the left wing into touch and with it sealing the result.

The win puts the Chiefs seven points clear of the fifth-placed Hurricanes who are yet to play - enough to keep them inside the top four with the fourth place Brumbies also yet to play.

Should the Brumbies beat Moana Pasifika later Saturday evening, they will move in to third.

The Blues and Crusaders have already locked up the top two positions.

Chiefs 35 [Emoni Narawa 2, Angus Ta'avao, penalty try, Bryn Gatland tries; Gatland 4 cons]

Fijian Drua 34 [Apisalome Vota 2, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Timoci Sauvoli try; Teti Tela 4 cons, 2 pens]

HT: 21-7


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