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The Sunwolves suffered their first loss of the Super Rugby season Saturday, losing 43-17 to the Chiefs.

In an entertaining game in front of 18,708 at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground, the rugged, hard work of the Chiefs pack and the mercurial skills of Damian McKenzie proved to be the difference as the New Zealanders improved to 3-0 and the hosts fell to 1-1.

“That was a tough game out there,” said Chiefs coach Warren Gatland. “We are very happy with the performance and the result, and to come away with a bonus point is huge for us.”

Sunwolves coach Naoya Okubo, meanwhile, said the game had given his side “a lot of good learnings,” not least at the breakdown.

The Sunwolves had the edge in possession — 58 percent to 42 — but with Lachlan Boshier showing why is currently the top player in the Southern Hemisphere in the contact area, the Chiefs were able to force a number of turnovers and stop the hosts from putting phases together at key moments.

In the seventh and 40th minutes the Sunwolves’ Garth April and Jaba Bregvadze, respectively, picked up their second tries of the season.

In between, however, the Chiefs had scored four of their own through Solomon Alaimalo, Shaun Stevenson, the influential Brad Weber and McKenzie to make it 24-12 at the break.

Unforced errors and indiscipline also hurt the Sunwolves, as did some of their one-on-one tackling, with the hosts missing 32 of their 135 tackle attempts.

“When we are able to do what we want in attack we are good, but we need to improve at the breakdown and in the contact area,” co-captain Keisuke Moriya said.

In the seventh and 40th minutes, the Sunwolves’ Garth April and Jaba Bregvadze, respectively, picked up their second tries of the season.

In between, however, the Chiefs had scored four of their own through Solomon Alaimalo, Shaun Stevenson, the influential Brad Weber and McKenzie to make it 24-12 at the break.

An error early in the second half from Moriya, while the Chiefs were still down to 14 men, handed Boshier a deserved try before mass replacements from both sides saw the game drop in intensity and standard.

Waseda University student Shogo Nakano bagged his first Super Rugby try, but it was the Chiefs who finished stronger with Quinn Tupaea and Kaleb Trask crossing the chalk to ensure the Chiefs fly home with 13 points from a possible 15.

“We got some crucial turnovers and capitalized and scored,” said Gatland.

The Sunwolves, who are in their final season of Super Rugby, next play the Reds in Brisbane, Australia, while the Chiefs take on the Brumbies in Hamilton, New Zealand.

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