Western Force 19-20 Chiefs, HBF Park
Domingo Miotti's conversion went wide in the added minutes as Western Force were edged out by Chiefs with a 19-20 margin in their opening encounter at Super Rugby Trans Tasman campaign.
Chiefs dominated the opening exchanges after Brad Weber with a dummy sent a pass to Damian McKenzie, who released to Alex Nankivell as he went over the line. McKenzie kicked the conversion to take them to a 0-7 lead.
Jake McIntyre had a chance to get Force off the mark but his penalty in the 15th minute went wide but they were handed a lifeline in the 35th minute as the visitors lost Anton Lienert-Brown and Luke Jacobson to yellow card in successive minutes for repeated infringements that also resulted in the penalty try for the hosts.
McKenzie with his maiden penalty goal at the stroke of half-time ensured the New Zealand side had a slender three-point lead heading into the break.
The Chiefs fly-half missed out on a penalty early in the second half but they were handed a lifeline with Force reduced to 14-men temporarily with Jordan Olowofela sin-binned in the 53rd minute for a knock on. With the numerical advantage on their side, Chiefs set up a strong driving maul and forced their way past the defence of the home side and eventually Nathan Harris powered his way over in the 54th minute and three minutes later it was the turn of Jonah Lowe to dot down after collecting an offload from Tupou Vaa'i.
McKenzie missed the conversions on both the occasions but Chiefs still maintained a 20-7 lead heading into the final quarter which started with them losing Luke Jacobson to red card in the 66th minute for not rolling away at the breakdown allowing Force to make a comeback into the game with a 70th minute touchdown from winger Richard Kahui, who grabbed a long pass from Ian Prior with a conversion from Miotti making the scoreline 14-20.
As the clock was ticking, Jeremy Thrush offloaded to Miotti, who went over bringing them on the brink of a stunning win before his conversion went wide to hand Force a heartbreak as they lost the encounter by one point.