Chiefs rue losses, which cost them top spot

EVAN PEGDEN
Last updated 05:00 16/07/2012
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Tanerau Latimer
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THWARTED: Chiefs flanker Tanerau Latimer places his hands on his head in despair after the Hurricanes’ winning try on Friday.

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Chiefs flanker Tanerau Latimer says his team have no-one to blame but them selves for not clinching top spot for the Super Rugby playoffs.

Latimer, who on Wednesday cele brated the birth of his first child, had his mood tempered by Friday night's 28-25 loss to the Hurricanes at Wellington's Westpac Stadium.

"That's two weeks in a row that we've left it to the TMO and we've got no-one to blame but ourselves," Latimer said.

"We let ourselves get in that situation and it's not something we want to do come finals time."

While the Chiefs had done enough to build a lead in the second half and take control, they had not done enough in the last 10 minutes, relying too much on their 25-21 lead.

"We gave penalties away and [with all that possession] a team is bound to score at some time. We gave ourselves too much defending to do.

"Maybe we were a bit reluctant to attack so much and we might have to look at that on Monday.

"When you get to 74 minutes and you're four points ahead, those kind of things do creep in, but good teams keep attacking and that's where we've got to get to."

Latimer said the business end of the season was proving a steep learning curve for the Chiefs, who have only previously been near the top of the table and gone to the semifinals twice before - in 2004 and 2009.

"The pressure's come on and we haven't delivered so we've just got to tighten back up and we know we can win games like that.

"We've just got to get stuck into our work and figure out a way to win those games."

It had been no surprise that the Hurricanes ran at them at every opportunity they got the ball as they had made it clear leading up to the match that was how they were going to play.

"We had to match that and we did in parts but, as I said, in that last five minutes or so we probably held back a bit."

Latimer had no doubt the Chiefs could take the lessons learnt in the past two weeks and turn their game around for the finals.

"These are learning curves and you have to learn from them and the boys will be better for that and look forward to the next challenge."

The Chiefs made a lot of breaks in Friday night's game but often failed to carry them on through lack of urgency of support and lack of vision further out wide.

"That was mentioned at halftime and that is something we have to look at as well. Sonny [Bill Williams] and Tawera [Kerr-Barlow] were making a lot of line breaks and we were just a pass away from scoring tries but just didn't seem to convert those opportunities."

Meanwhile, newborn son Isaia is doing well, Latimer's wife walking out of hospital with him just two hours after the birth.

"I just can't wait to get home now and see the little fella," Latimer said on Friday night.

Meanwhile, Chiefs skipper Craig Clarke said the loss to the Hurricanes was not down to lack of "ticker and work rate" but a couple of late set pieces had let them down.

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"We had an attacking lineout with about 10 to go and overthrew it and there were a couple of bad scrums," Clarke said.

"That's what it came down to. We're pretty disappointed; to lose a local derby is never nice."

The Chiefs had to use what had got them this far - because they had been doing things well - in the playoffs.

"We've got good coaches to sort it all out for us."

Losing momentum through consecutive losses was not ideal for them.

"But it is what is and we've got to deal with, we've got to change it."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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