Team finesses a finish
The Chiefs have rediscovered their try-scoring ability and chalked up their second consecutive Super Rugby bonuspoint victory, but their defence has slipped.
In the last two matches they have scored 10 tries, but conceded nine after letting in 17 in their first eight fixtures.
Their final game against non- Kiwi opposition, this Friday at home to the 13thplaced Force at Waikato Stadium, is where they must put that right.
Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie said individual tackling rather than systems was probably the biggest concern from a defensive point of view, but it was also a case of turning over the ball needlessly.
‘‘A couple of weeks ago, we were frustrated because we were creating lots of opportunities and not finishing, but the last couple of weeks has been much better,’’ Rennie said after returning from Melbourne where his team beat the Rebels 39-33 – six tries to five.
‘‘We’ve been far more clini- cal and we’re turning pressure into points, so that’s been a positive . . . We seem to put ourselves under pressure – the opposition get a few more points and we’re under stress again. That part of our game has got to be a lot better.’’
Rennie put the defensive lapses down mainly to missed one-on-one tackles and said the frustration was that there were other aspects of their defence in Melbourne that were outstanding, such as getting on the tackled ball to win turnovers or penalties.
‘‘ There was some poor individual tackling that put us under pressure as well,’’ he said.
The Chiefs had to be more consistent and had to put teams under pressure for longer.
Rennie said it was more complicated than a simple case of placing more emphasis on try-scoring to earn bonus points at the expense of defence.
A couple of ‘‘nothing’’ short kicks had handed over possession and put them under pressure when long kicks to space for territory should have been made.
The injury-plagued Chiefs did not suffer any further major casualties; the biggest concern being an aggravation of an ongoing groin problem for centre Tim NanaiWilliams, who looks set to carry a heavy workload for the rest of the season now that Richard Kahui’s season appears over.
Nanai- Williams was replaced by Robbie Robinson in the third quarter.
‘‘He felt it the day before, it felt all right game day but during the game it started to tighten up and we were pretty thin on midfield cover as it was,’’ Rennie said.
However, it was expected Nanai-Williams would be OK to play this week if he continued to manage the injury.
Waikato centre Save Tokula was added to the Chiefs’ wider training group for the rest of the season. Tighthead prop Ben Afeaki and halfback Tawera Kerr- Barlow are expected to play this week.