While most of the weekend's Super Rugby pre-season fixtures were try-fests, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie was delighted to watch his team put under pressure and defend for long periods.
The Chiefs managed to post another win in their second pre-season match of the year with a 20-8 result over the Reds on the Sunshine Coast on Friday night, but it was the way they fought their way back which pleased the coach the most.
"In the end attitude's everything, and the boys showed plenty of that in the second half," said Rennie after the visitors went to the break 8-0 behind.
With a strong breeze on hand, all the points in the match came when the teams had the wind at their back, with the Chiefs able to capitalise on a big territorial advantage in the second stanza, following some struggles at set piece early on.
"We just struggled to get any continuity going," Rennie said. "We had a couple of opportunities that we should have scored from.
"They [the Reds] scrummed pretty well.
"We're still sorting out combinations and so on. That's just one area. In the end our handling wasn't good enough, we made too many errors where we gave the ball back to them quickly."
A driving maul began a strong movement downfield for midfielder Bundee Aki to dot down under the posts, before Aaron Cruden slotted a penalty to give his side the lead.
The Chiefs had two second half tries disallowed, however, they did manage to capitalise twice more, with halfback Augustine Pulu and winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma also crossing the chalk.
Rennie was delighted with his team's defence, as they conceded just one try, after only letting in two in their first-up hit-out against the Highlanders.
"It was good for us, to be honest, because we got ourselves under a fair bit of pressure and we just fought our way out of it and the boys showed a lot of character," he said.
"We've still got a lot of work to do and there's a lot of areas that we need to be better in but we're probably a little bit more advanced than we were this time last year."
Rennie gave his All Blacks starts and said although he imagined "their lungs would've been hurting at various times", they would be better for the run.
The only worry to come out of the game was a knock to lock Brodie Retallick's knee, and he will be assessed in the coming days.
Craig Clarke and Ben Afeaki should be all right to return from niggles for the final pre-season match against the Hurricanes in Mangatainoka on Saturday.
- Waikato Times
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