Mid-year report card: Chiefs

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Monday, June 18, 2018    Jack Sergent-Shadbolt    Getty Images

Played: 13
Won: 8
Lost: 5

Position: Fourth in NZ conference and sixth overall
Leading Points Scorer: Damian McKenzie (134)
Leading Try Scorer: Solomon Alaimalo (6)


Best Moment
The Chiefs have played their best rugby at FMG Stadium Waikato this season, only dropping one game at the venue. Their battle against the Waratahs in round 15 showed their skill and grit in wet conditions. After overcoming an early fourteen point deficit, tries were scored by backs and forwards all over the park. The class of the entire squad was on display in this memorable 39-27 win over the Australian conference leaders. 

Top Player
The breakthrough player for the season has without a doubt been Solomon Alaimalo. His height and agility have been used to great effect in the Chiefs backline and with 140 carries and 36 clean breaks, his bustling runs have left many opposition defenders in the dust. With his attacking game developing nicely, Alaimalo has quickly become a key member of the squad and destined for a bright future with the club and beyond. His game-breaking ability will be crucial if the Chiefs are to lift their third Investec Super Rugby title in 2018. 

Work ons
At sixth on the super rugby ladder it’s hard to see this season as a failure, but the reality is that the Chiefs are the fourth best NZ team this year. Defence has been a critical area, with the side failing to pull off enough away wins to put them at the top of the table. The Chiefs will be working hard over the June break to ensure their defence is more resolute – particularly with crunch knock out games approaching.

With the likes of McKenzie, Alaimalo and Lienert-Brown bossing the backline, the Chiefs will be a dangerous proposition for any opposition they face. Add to that the rise of bruising prop Karl Tu'inukuafe and proven world-class of lock Brodie Retallick, you’ve got quality performers across the park. After a trip to Fiji to play the Highlanders, the Chiefs finish their regular season with two matches at FMG Stadium Waikato against the Brumbies and the Hurricanes. Win all three and the Chiefs will be regarded as serious contenders for the title.

ROUND 17: Highlanders v Chiefs, 5.15pm, Saturday 30 June, Suva
ROUND 18: Chiefs v Brumbies, 5.15pm, Saturday 7 July, FMG Stadium Waikato
ROUND 19: Chiefs v Hurricanes, 7.35pm, Friday July 13, FMG Stadium Waikato