Whiteley only joined the team last weekend in New Zealand following his return from a lengthy injury layoff and his timely return to the Highveld side, together with the inclusion of fellow loose forwards Kwagga Smith and Cyle Brink, was just the tonic the Pride of Jozi needed after two previous losses.
The Emirates Lions won the match despite some disruptions in the week leading up to the match, with Courtnall Skosan returning home to be with his seriously ill father and coach Swys de Bruin also flying back for personal reasons.
The Joburg side went into the halftime break with a well-deserved 20-0 lead following an impressive allround display which delivered two converted tries scored by big front ranker Carlu Sadie and Springbok wing Aphiwe Dyantyi, while Elton Jantjies slotted both conversions and two penalty goals.
The visitors were dominant in the forward exchanges, with Malcolm Marx, Marvin Orie and returning skipper Whiteley all impressive in a well-functioning unit. Jantjies gave a solid performance in the midfield from where he directed the backline play intelligently whilst also delivering a polished kicking display.
The Chiefs couldn’t find a way through the resolute defence of the visitors for a full hour of play, however, a fortunate break set in motion a passage of play which resulted in three tries for them as they clawed their way back into the game. Sean Wainui, Nepo Laulala, Tumua Manu each scored a try for the home side.
However, the visitors held their nerve to keep the rampant Chiefs at bay and one more big effort from their forwards resulted in a penalty, with Jantjies opting to have a go with a successful drop goal for their only points of a gripping second half.
The Emirates Lions’ play the Crusaders in Christchurch in their next match.
Chiefs 17 (0) –
Tries: Sean Wainui, Nepo Laulala, Tumua Manu; Conversion: Marty McKenzie.
Lions 23 (20) – Tries: Carlu Sadie, Aphiwe Dyantyi; Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2); Penalties: Jantjies (2); Drop goal: Jantjies.