THE Chiefs have got the defence of their Super Rugby title off to the perfect start, beating the Highlanders 41-27 in Dunedin.
Tim Nanai-Williams scored two tries and Gareth Anscombe kicked 21 points as the visitors held off a disjointed effort by the locals.
They led by just two points and halftime and were behind briefly, but tries to Patrick Osborne, Aseali Tikoirotuma and Nanai-Williams saw them pull away and secure a bonus point.
Kade Poki scored a stunning try for the Highlanders, but it was the Chiefs runners who made the most of the holes in the defence.
Ma’a Nonu made his debut for the Highlanders, but a lack of combination with Phil Burleigh was evident, and the All Blacks centre limped off late in the match.
Chiefs 41 (Tim Nanai-Williams 2, Patrick Osborne, Aseali Tikorotuma tries, Gareth Anscombe 3 con, 5 pen) Highlanders 27 (Ben Smith, Hosea Gear, Kade Poki tries, Lima Sopoaga 3 con, 2 pen) Halftime: 16-14 Chiefs.