HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 12: Ben Tameifuna of the Chiefs charges forward during the round nine Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Rebels at Waikato Stadium on April 12, 2014 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The Chiefs celebrated their return to their Waikato Stadium fortress with a scrappy 22-16 win over the Melbourne Rebels in Hamilton on Saturday to maintain their lead over the New Zealand conference in Super Rugby.

Coming off a tough tour of Australia and South Africa, the double-defending champions stormed out of the gates to take a 19-0 lead by the 24th minute but were dragged into an attritional second half by the Rebels' hard-working forwards and the boot of flyhalf Jason Woodward.

Woodward's third penalty put the Rebels within a converted try with 64 minutes to play but the visitors repeatedly coughed up possession in the final minutes with a series of handling errors to surrender the match.

Replacing injured flyhalf and co-captain Aaron Cruden, Gareth Anscombe tallied 17 points for the Chiefs and helped set up the home side's sole try to lock Michael Fitzgerald in the 14th minute with a line-break. Japanese hooker Shota Horie grabbed the Rebels' only try three minutes after halftime. – Reuters