13 Feb 2017

Chiefs win Brisbane Tens for Lauaki

7:50 am on 13 February 2017

The Chiefs have honoured the memory of fallen All Black Sione Lauaki by winning the inaugural Brisbane Global Rugby Tens title.

Tim Nanai-Williams and Liam Messam look to the heavens in tribute to Sione Lauaki.

Tim Nanai-Williams and Liam Messam look to the heavens in tribute to Sione Lauaki. Photo: Photosport

In an emotion-charged all-New Zealand final, the Chiefs claimed a 12-5 victory over the previously undefeated Crusaders on Sunday at Suncorp Stadium.

Lauaki, a 17-cap All Black who made 70 Super Rugby appearances for the Waikato-based Chiefs, died early on Sunday morning at the age of just 35.

He was diagnosed with kidney and heart problems in 2012.

Some of his former teammates and coaches awoke to the news in Brisbane and dedicated the rest of their tournament to him.

Captain Liam Messam was due to fly home after the quarter-final to support friends and family of Lauaki, but decided the best way to pay tribute was to lead their team to victory.

Despite losing the opening match of the tournament on Saturday to the Melbourne Rebels , the Chiefs thrashed the Panasonic Wild Knights 33-5 on Sunday before beating the Queensland Reds 12-10 in the quarterfinals.

The Bulls provided little resistance to the emotionally charged Chiefs in the semifinals, going down 26-14 and clearing the way for an all New Zealand final with the Crusaders.

Shaun Stevenson was one of the stand out players for the Chiefs on day two, scoring a brilliant individual try in the semifinal and setting up the match winning try in the final.

Shaun Stevenson in action at the Brisbane Tens.

Shaun Stevenson in action at the Brisbane Tens. Photo: Photosport

The Crusaders defeated the Hurricanes 17-7 in the other semi final, before yielding to the Chiefs in the title match.

The Blues were the only New Zealand team not to reach the Brisbane quarterfinals in which the Highlanders were beaten by the Hurricanes 7-5.

However, the win came at a huge cost for the Chiefs, who lost halfback Brad Weber (knee) and prop Mitchell Graham (broken leg) to serious injuries.

Graham's in particular was a horrific blow - but in keeping with the jovial nature of the weekend, he managed to salute the crowd by dabbing while being taken from the field in a medicab.

The injuries, which came after Vaea Fifita also suffered a suspected broken leg in the Hurricanes' semi-final defeat to the Crusaders, show why New Zealand Rugby blocked top-line All Blacks from playing in the tournament.

-RNZ