With his side down by four points, the reserve prop got the ball around 10 metres out from the hosts’ line and showed a sensational mix of speed, power and poise to burst his way over and give the visitors to AAMI Park a thrilling 33-30 Super Rugby Pacific victory.
The Chiefs looked poised to be on the wrong end of a massive upset result, the Rebels of course coming off that 71-28 shellacking at the hands of the Blues at Eden Park the weekend prior, and coach Clayton McMillan must have been wondering what to make of his mix and match selection strategy for the encounter.
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But in the end, there were sighs of relief all round as young loosehead Norris chose no better time to dot down for a maiden five-pointer, which in all its glory pushed the Chiefs back up to fourth place on the ladder, keeping them on track to host a home quarterfinal.
Co-captain Brad Weber and Josh Ioane returned from injury and while they endured some mixed moments, Ioane came into his own later in the piece, a huge part of a visitors attack that eventually bagged five tries, and made a key run just before Norris’ magic.
The Rebels dominated the early stages, yet only had a 3-0 scoreline to show for it by the quarter mark, and finally, with some ball down the other end, the Chiefs struck twice through Luke Jacobson and Chase Tiatia, who was a late inclusion on the left wing for Etene Nanai-Seturo.
But just as it looked like the visitors were going to twist the knife on the stroke of halftime, with hulking Rebels prop Pone Fa’amausili sin-binned for taking Josh Lord off the ball following his massive shot on Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Carter Gordon saved his side’s blushes.
The Rebels No.10 picked off a Ioane pass and coasted 70 metres for one of those 14-point swing tries which meant the hosts were behind just 12-10 at the break.
The Chiefs couldn’t cash in on their one-man advantage, guilty of a couple of spills early in the second stanza, and in fact, it was the short-handed Rebels who struck, taking the lead when Ioane’s pass went to ground and Andrew Kellaway swooped, the Wallabies winger hacking ahead and chasing through, and all of a sudden the Rebels were up 17-12.
Their lead was short-lived, though. Just as the Chiefs looked to be stalling, Ioane came up with a piece of brilliance in slicing up the middle, and a few phases later Samisoni Taukei’aho monstered his way over, then soon after the hour, Narawa scored from a brilliant individual effort, leaving Rebels scattered everywhere as he danced his way to the line.
But at 26-17, the Chiefs invited the Rebels straight back in, with their back-field making an absolute mess of collecting a Carter Gordon high kick, and instead it was Hodge who raced through to collect and surge his way over.
The fullback then banged over two penalties, and with Luke Jacobson yellow carded for high contact, the Chiefs had to come up with something special.
They most certainly did that.
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