Etene Nanai-Seturo of Chiefs in action during a Super Rugby match played at the Jose Amalfitani stadium in Buenos Aires in March. Photo: EPA/Marcelo Endelli

WELLINGTON – The Chiefs produced an epic defensive effort to keep alive their slim finals hopes with a hard-fought 19-13 win over Queensland Reds in Hamilton on Friday.

The New Zealanders scored three tries to one despite being outplayed for most of the match and failing to notch a point in the second half.

They made 242 tackles to 85 as the Reds dominated possession but failed to find a way through.

“Man, that was an immense effort to hold the Reds out, they were outstanding in the second half,” captain Brad Weber said. “We were probably our own worst enemy, giving away a ton of penalties and couldn't get out of our own half.”

The win takes the Chiefs above Auckland Blues in the New Zealand conference and makes a spot in the finals a mathematical possibility, although most teams in contention have a game in hand on them and results would need to go their way.

The result dents the Reds' finals prospects and skipper Izack Rodda admitted it was frustrating.

“The last five minutes we were on their line and just going and going, credit to the Chiefs for holding us out, it was an amazing effort,” he said.

The Reds almost scored in the opening minutes, working the ball through 19 phases, only for Angus Scott Young's lunge at the line to be ruled a double movement. 

Etene Nanai-Seturo then had a try disallowed at the other end when the replays showed the Chiefs winger knocked on before grounding the ball. 

Chiefs loose forward Pita Sowakula made no mistake in the ninth minute, beating three defenders to cross for a converted try. 

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Prop Atu Moli extended the home team's lead after a patient build-up, then Nanai-Seturo scored their third try just before the break to make it 19-6. 

Adding to the Reds' woes, the Queenslanders had another try disallowed, again for a double movement. 

A Taniela Tupou try after the restart reduced the Chiefs' buffer to six points and they laid siege to the tryline but could not find a way through.

Agence France-Presse (AFP)