Auckland coach Wayne Pivac admitted he had to give his side a blast at halftime in their 22-18 win over Counties Manukau at a rain soaked Eden Park last night.
While the win meant that Auckland have gone through the regular season victorious at home and all but confirmed the province a place in the semifinals, it was far from being a good performance against the team sitting on top of the Championship and Pivac revealed that he gave his players a verbal lashing at the break.
"It was a frustrating night from the coaching box," Pivac said.
"For the first time this season we got stuck into the boys at halftime because we were playing dry weather footy in the wet.
"The instructions were to get field position, it was clear to us that the team in their own quarter was getting penalised and we continually played too much rugby in our own half and there were turnovers and we gave them field position.
"So we were very lucky to be ahead at halftime and fulltime.
"We thought we were getting it right in the second half and then we fell back into running the ball in our own half, it was unacceptable and we were lucky to get away with it.
"We showed naivety and even with messages going out, we still didn't change, so it's something we will address."
Openside flanker Sean Polwart reaggravated a shoulder injury in the game and is one of a few players in doubt for next Sunday's Battle of the Bridge game against North Harbour.
While Pivac was disappointed with how his side played, he acknowledged it is pleasing to win all five games at Eden Park.
"One of the goals was to be unbeaten at home and to make the top four," he said.
"The one thing we got out of the game was that we kept the unbeaten run at Eden Park and clearly we're on track for the top four, so I guess that's something to smile about."
Meanwhile, Counties coach Tana Umaga was equally dissatisfied with his team's performance after the first quarter of an hour.
"Auckland did well to get the win and they hustled us into making mistakes and they didn't make as many as we did," the former All Blacks captain said.
"They took the points on offer and did what they had to, so hats off to them.
"We are a bit disappointed about the way we played, it is probably not a great reflection of how we've been playing and the boys have had a chat about that.
"For the first 10-15 minutes we did [play to the conditions} we were making some inroads but we went away from what was working for us and Auckland got settled in and just squeezed us."
This was just the second defeat of the season for Counties, but with an eight-point lead at the top of the Championships, they are almost certain to be hosting as semifinal.
It isn't just collectively that the Steelers are getting rewards for how well this season, over the past week Baden Kerr has been given a contract with the Blues and the Chiefs have signed Bundee Aki and Umaga said it's pleasing to see his players get rewarded with fulltime professional contracts.
"It is great for our side and it's a positive for our team," he said.
"Those boys have worked really hard this year and when your team is successful then everyone's looking at you and when they do that things can happen.
"One of our aims as the coaching staff is to get as many players as we can up to higher honours and there is a feeling within the players themselves that they want to promote as many as they can, because they believe we deserve it."
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