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The Gallagher Chiefs have proven too strong for the Queensland Reds, running away with a convincing 46-17 win at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth.

In a much improved performance after a flat couple of weeks, the Gallagher Chiefs scored six tries in total with a burst of 19 points in the opening 12 minutes of the second half sending them on their way to five more competition points, and improving their record this season to nine wins and one loss.

A steady start from both teams meant neither side was able to make much of an impact in the opening 10 minutes. But the Reds slowly worked their way into good field position and capitalised with a strong lineout drive from five metres out – hooker Stephen Moore the man to get the ball down for an early lead.

From the restart the Gallagher Chiefs responded by winning the kick off and quickly moving to within metres of the Reds’ line. Prop Kane Hames looked to have barged his way over after seven phases of pressure, and after a lengthy look from the TMO the try was confirmed. Fullback Damian McKenzie slotted the conversion to give his side the lead.

Momentum soon swung back in favour of the visitors and, after winning a penalty right in front, showed their intent as they opted to kick into the corner and were rewarded with their second try when wing Eto Nabuli pounced on a deflected pass to score.

First five Quade Cooper added the extras for a 12-7 lead after the opening 20 minutes of play, but that gap was soon narrowed when McKenzie landed a straight forward penalty attempt.

After some good Gallagher Chiefs defence denied another positive period of play from the Reds, McKenzie made a good counter attacking run which led to a high tackle yellow card for Reds veteran George Smith. McKenzie made no mistake off the tee from the resulting penalty to nudge his side back in front.

Yet again the Reds worked their way deep into Gallagher Chiefs territory but a brilliant run from the returning Charlie Ngatai cleared the danger and shifted the Chiefs onto attack. After several minutes of pressure, it was Ngatai who fittingly finished off the movement, getting the ball from wing Toni Pulu and sliding over in the tackle to extend the lead.

The Gallagher Chiefs finished the half strongly and looked like they made add further points before the break, but the Reds held on and the teams went into halftime with the Gallagher Chiefs up 20 points to 12.

It took less than a minute for the hosts to strike in the second half as Sam Cane won the kick off to immediately put the Gallagher Chiefs on the front foot. A couple of phases after a good run from Tawera Kerr-Barlow the halfback then supplied a well-timed pass for lock Dominic Bird to crash over.

The Gallagher Chiefs made it a double strike as wing James Lowe made a clean break up the middle of the field to get the Reds defence scrambling. Some quick ball movement put first five Stephen Donald into space and he showed a good turn of speed to finish from 25 metres out.

After settling down for a moment, the Reds switched off at scrum time just five metres from their own line to allow the Gallagher Chiefs a tighthead, and Donald was on hand to take a short pass from Kerr-Barlow to score his second try of the evening.

With McKenzie converting both of Donald’s tries the score quickly blew out to 39-12 with still over 25 minutes remaining.

Just as it looked like the Gallagher Chiefs were about to completely run away with it, a turnover on halfway saw the Reds break out down the left wing and some slick ball handling ended in a well taken try to centre Campbell Magnay.

As both sides emptied the reserve benches for the final quarter the structure went out of the game until a piece of magic out of nowhere from James Lowe. Picking the ball up 40 metres out, the left wing ducked and weaved his way through several tired defenders to score a fine solo try.

The Gallagher Chiefs looked keen to hit the half century mark and had their chances late in the match but the match was ended when replacement Shaun Stevenson kicked the ball into touch to ensure the bonus point win.

Gallagher Chiefs 46 (Stephen Donald 2, Kane Hames, Charlie Ngatai, Dominic Bird, James Lowe tries; Damian McKenzie 5 cons, 2 pens) Queensland Reds 17 (Stephen Moore, Eto Nabuli, Campbell Magnay tries; Quade Cooper con) HT: 20-12.

The Gallagher Chiefs now head into a bye week before returning to action with a special fixture – a top of the table clash with the Crusaders at ANZ Stadium in Suva, Fiji (Friday 19 May, kick off 7.35pm).

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