A familiar sight … Damien Fitzpatrick could only watch as the Chiefs ran rampant. (AAP: David Rowland)
The NSW Waratahs’ slim Super Rugby finals hopes have been flattened in a 46-31 loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton.
The Chiefs, the last New Zealand franchise to lose to an Australian team more than a year ago, scored six tries to four on Saturday despite the visitors enjoying plenty of territory and possession.
The problems that have plagued the Tahs throughout their campaign were painfully obvious again.
Time and again, opposing players were able to offload in the tackle.
Poor discipline continued to be an issue, with hooker Tolu Latu and bench prop Paddy Ryan sin-binned for a trip and foul play respectively, the former just before half-time and the latter in the second half.
And again, after being monstered on the scoreboard by a New Zealand side in the first 50 minutes, they launched a rally.
Down 32-3 early in the second half, they rattled off 14 consecutive points to get within eight points in the last five minutes, after an amazing 50-metre solo try to Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu.
The comeback started with an intercept try to Rob Horne and lock Will Skelton crashing over from a forward drive.
It was temporarily halted as more slick passing and support play put Chiefs half-back Tawera Kerr-Barlow over for his second try.
Ryan and Chiefs flanker Mitchell Brown were sin-binned after the referee adjudged they had aggravated a situation after running in following a tackle by Kiwi number eight Liam Messam.
Waratahs winger Cam Clark hit a gap at pace to score a 73rd-minute try and Kepu then overcame four defenders with Foley converting both.
Livewire Chiefs winger James Lowe completed a hat-trick in the 79th minute.
The loss meant NSW completed a clean sweep of five losses this year against New Zealand sides.