WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Flyhalf Stephen Donald crossed twice as the Waikato Chiefs scored 19 points early in the second half to put the game beyond doubt and beat the Queensland Reds 46-17 in their Super Rugby clash in New Plymouth on Saturday.
Donald, a late call-up after Aaron Cruden withdrew due to illness, brushed past opposite number Quade Cooper in the 44th and 52nd minutes as the Chiefs put the game beyond doubt after they had taken a slim 20-12 lead into the second half.
Prop Kane Hames, centre Charlie Ngatai, who was making his first Super Rugby appearance in a year after recovering from concussion, lock Dominic Bird and winger James Lowe also scored tries and fullback Damian McKenzie contributed 16 points with the boot.
Reds hooker Stephen Moore, winger Eto Nabuli and centre Campbell Magnay claimed tries for the visitors with Cooper adding a single conversion.
Moore and Nabuli’s tries had given the Reds a 12-7 advantage inside the first 20 minutes before McKenzie, who had converted Hames’s earlier try, slotted two penalties to give the Chiefs some momentum and a lead they never relinquished.
Ngatai, whose last Super Rugby game was on May 7 last year, broke out from his own line to run 50 metres and set up the field position that ended several phases later with the 26-year-old barrelling over to give his side an eight-point lead at the break.
Bird and Donald crossed in the opening five minutes of the second half to effectively put the game beyond doubt before the home side’s scrum shunted the Reds off the ball and the flyhalf finished off a smart blindside move.
Magnay scored the Reds third try before a raft of substitutions from both sides resulted in the game losing its shape, which was exemplified by Lowe’s try from broken play as he cut through a ragged Reds defence.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ed Osmond