Mastermind Smith builds Chiefs' defence

23:32, Mar 02 2013
Chiefs v Highlanders
Liam Messam tries to avoid the tackle of Ma'a Nonu during his side's opening round win over the Highlanders.
Chiefs v Highlanders
Patrick Osborne dives over for a try against the Highlanders.
Chiefs v Highlanders
Tawera Kerr-Barlow clears the ball during the Chiefs' win over the Highlanders.
Chiefs v Highlanders
Gareth Anscombe gets caught in a tackle on his Chiefs debut against the Highlanders.
Gareth Anscombe
Gareth Anscombe goes over to score for the Chiefs against the Cheetahs.
Tim Nanai-Williams
Tim Nanai-Williams tries to evade a tackler.
Liam Messam
Liam Messam on the charge.
Brodie Retallick
Brodie Retallick gets an offload away.
Chiefs
Stormers wing Bryan Habana is tackled during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and the Chiefs.
Sam Cane gallery
Sam Cane charges headlong into the Stormers' defence.
Tanerau Latimer
Tanerau Latimer looks to spread the ball wide.
Liam Messam
Liam Messam charges ahead for the Chiefs.
Chiefs v Kings
Andrew Horrell makes a break for the Chiefs during their bonus point win over the Southern Kings.
Chiefs v Kings
Lelia Masaga makes a run during his triple-try scoring effort against the Kings.
Chiefs v Kings
Hika Elliot in action against the Southern Kings.
Chiefs v Kings
Liam Messam gets his side fired up during his 100th Super Rugby game for the Chiefs against the Southern Kings.
Chiefs v Highlanders
Liam Messam receives a greenstone mere from former Chiefs coach Ian Foster during a special presentation to celebrate his 100th game for the Chiefs.
Chiefs v Highlanders
Liam Messam fans show some love for the Chiefs co-captain's 100th game celebrations.
Chiefs v Highlanders
Richard Kahui makes a break in his return for the Chiefs during their win over the Highlanders.
Chiefs v Highlanders
Aaron Cruden fends off Highlanders counterpart Colin Slade.
Chiefs v Highlanders
Tim Nanai-Williams is congratulated after scoring the Chiefs' only try in their win over the Highlanders.
Chiefs v Highlanders
Andrew Horrell comes up just short in his dive for the try line.
Chiefs 2013 Season
Michael Fitzgerald of the Chiefs charges forward during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Blues at Bay Park.
Chiefs 2013 Season
Richard Kahui of the Chiefs dives over to score a try during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Blues at Bay Park.
Chiefs 2013 Season
Aaron Cruden with the ball during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Blues at Bay Park.
Chiefs 2013 Season
Richard Kahui on the charge during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Blues at Bay Park.
Quade Cooper
The Reds' Quade Cooper is tackled by the Chiefs' Aaron Cruden during their clash in Hamilton.
Bundee Aki
Chief Bundee Aki goes over to score a try against the Reds in Hamilton.
Chiefs gallery
Gareth Anscombe streaks away from the Waratahs defence.
Chiefs gallery
Sitaleki Timani receives a yellow card.
Chiefs gallery
Aaron Cruden spins it wide against the Waratahs.
Chiefs gallery
The Chiefs huddle under the posts after conceding a try to the Waratahs.
Chiefs v Sharks
Bundee Aki dives over for a try during the Chiefs win over the Sharks at Waikato Stadium.
Chiefs v Sharks
Asaeli Tikoirotuma attempts to break through a Sharks tackle.
Chiefs v Sharks
Ben Tameifuna on the charge against the Sharks.
Chiefs v Sharks
Liam Messam helps carry the load against the Sharks in Hamilton.
Chiefs
Gareth Anscombe goes in to score against the Melbourne Rebels.
Chiefs
Sam Cane (second from left) is congratulated by team-mates after scoring against the Melbourne Rebels.
Chiefs
Brendon Leonard (right) takes on his opposite number Nick Phipps of the Melbourne Rebels.
Chiefs
Bundee Aki celebrates after scoring a try against the Melbourne Rebels.
Chiefs season 2013
Robbie Robinson of the Chiefs competes for a high ball against Kyle Godwin of the Force.
Chiefs season 2013
Ben McCalman of the Force is tackled by Matt Vant Leven during their Round 13 Super Rugby clash.
Chiefs season 2013
Brett Sheehan watches the Force and Chiefs packs contest a scrum.
Chiefs 2013 gallery
Tawera Kerr-Barlow spins it wide against the Hurricanes.
Chiefs 2013 gallery
Liam Messam charges into the gap for the Chiefs against the Hurricanes.
Chiefs 2013 gallery
Prop Ben Afeaki charges into the open for the Chiefs.
Chiefs 2013 gallery
Aaron Cruden gets a kick away under pressure from Hurricanes lock Ben May.
Chiefs gallery
Aaron Cruden goes in to score the opening try against the Crusaders.
Chiefs gallery
Tanerau Latimer (left) and Tawera Kerr-Barlow wrap up George Whitelock of the Crusaders.
Chiefs gallery
Robbie Robinson in action against the Crusaders.
Chiefs gallery
Liam Messam charges ahead against the Crusaders.
Chiefs gallery 2013
A see of Chiefs flags welcomes the NZ conference leaders ahead of their game against the Hurricanes.
Chiefs gallery 2013
Matt Vant Leven climbs high to win a lineout against the Hurricanes.
Chiefs gallery 2013
Tim Nanai-Williams attempts to bust through the Hurricanes defence.
Chiefs gallery 2013
Lelia Masaga makes a break against the Hurricanes, with Matt Vant Leven in support.
Chiefs 2013
Aaron Cruden of the Chiefs runs with the ball into defender Tom Marshall of the Crusaders during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Chiefs.
Chiefs 2013
Aseli Tikoirotuma of the Chiefs runs with the ball during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Chiefs.
Chiefs 2013
Aseli Tikoirotuma of the Chiefs celebrates his try with Ben Tameifuna during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Chiefs.
Chiefs 2013
Ross Filipo of the Chiefs tackles Dan Carter of the Crusaders after a kick in the Crusaders in goal during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Chiefs.
Chiefs v Blues
Andrew Horrell in action for the Chiefs in their regular season finale win over the Blues.
Chiefs v Blues
Ben Tameifuna on the charge for the Chiefs.
Chiefs v Blues
Bundee Aki scores at full stretch against the Blues.
Chiefs v Blues
Aaron Cruden converts a try during the Chiefs' win over the Blues.
Chiefs vs Crusaders
Liam Messam takes on the Crusaders defence.
Chiefs vs Crusaders
Lelia Masaga has a cut at the Crusaders defence.
Chiefs vs Crusaders
Asaeli Tikoirotuma is downed by Owen Franks.
Chiefs vs Crusaders
Fans in full voice as the Chiefs take on the Crusaders.

Sometimes, you've got to have a Plan B. Luckily for the Chiefs theirs has been drawn up by one of the game's masterminds, defensive coach Wayne Smith.

So while the defending champions last night struggled until the final quarter to get their renowned offensive game into gear, it mattered not a jot.

The Chiefs defence was so damn good, a mountain of possession and wealth of territory for the visiting Cheetahs yielded them the princely sum of three points through a first 60 minutes they dominated.

Wayne Smith
SMITH THE MASTERMIND: The Chiefs are known for their exciting back line but Wayne Smith has also given them some steel in defence.

By then, the Chiefs, behind their iron curtain defensive line, had eked out a 17-3 lead that was as impressive as it was unlikely. While tries might win the admirers, everyone knows it's defence that wins championships.

And right now the Chiefs' defence is more advanced than its attack. It's going to keep winning them games too while they work their way into a rhythm with ball in hand.

When the floodgates did open over the final quarter, the crowd got their entertainment value as the home side ran in another four tries to lift their tally for the game to six, secure the bonus-point safely and join those Blues up at the top of the standings

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Brodie Retallick in the middle of their pack was magnificent, but all the forwards stood up and thrived in the arm-wrestle.

They also collected often enough to squeeze the spirit out of the Cheetahs, who made all the play through the first half, and beyond, only to find themselves down 10-3 at the break, and 17-3 early in the second spell.

Then came the finish, which probably flattered the hosts a little as they opened up the South Africans' defence like a can of sardines. All that effort over the first hour clearly told as the Cheetahs leaked four tries to a side enjoying a belated chance to play some football.

It had been a pretty messy first half by the Chiefs who struggled to garner either the possession or the territory to unleash their lethal attacking game, but still scratched out that seven-point lead.

The home team spent most of the spell hard on defence, where they did well to keep their line intact in the face of some pretty hard and direct running from the South Africans.

The Cheetahs, playing that game of possession and width they favour, had by far the best of the scoring opportunities, but could find no way through that tight defensive screen before the errors inevitably came.

A shocking first half by goalkicker Johan Goosen didn't help the visitors either, with three of four shots at goal missed and too many points squandered by a side playing so much of the rugby.

The Chiefs did strike once in the first half, scoring the only try through skipper and loose forward Liam Messam, in his 98th game of Super Rugby.

They had taken the lineout option off a penalty, and duly made the Cheetahs pay when they worked the phases across field and eventually got the sniff of the line that is all Messam needs. A helping hand from a couple of heavyweights in Ben Afeaki and Fritz Lee helped.

It took just a minute of the second half for the Chiefs to double their lead when lock Retallick did all the hard work (a charge down, and crucial touch on the deck) and prop Ben Afeaki twinkle-toed a metre or two down the sideline for the score.

Anscombe's pinpoint conversion from a difficult angle made it 17-3, and suddenly the Cheetahs were teetering on the brink.

Asaeli Tikoirotuma ran nicely off Aaron Cruden for the Chiefs' third try on the 64-minute mark, and then they came regularly, to Gareth Anscombe, who capped a perfect night with the boot with a nice score off the cutback, to rookie replacement hooker Rhys Marshall and finally big Ben Tameifuna.

The Chiefs forwards enjoyed a productive night and were led capably by Liam Messam, while Cruden took a big step back towards his best form, Lelia Masaga and Tikoirotuma looked likely out wide, and Anscombe continued to show his class.

Chiefs (Liam Messam, Ben Afeaki, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Gareth Anscombe, Rhys Marshall, Ben Tameifuna tries; Anscombe pen, 6 cons), Cheetahs (J Goosen pen). Ht: 10-3.

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