Chiefs assistant Smith out to right Red record

EVAN PEGDEN
Last updated 05:17 13/04/2013
Wayne Smith
BEN CURRAN/Fairfax NZ
WAYNE SMITH: "It's a game that even though it turned our season around in many respects - we improved hugely after that in some areas - it's still one I didn't like at the time and we're just hoping to put that right."

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Last year's loss to the Reds sticks in the craw of Chiefs assistant coach Wayne Smith.

While he doesn't think it is preying on the minds of his players, several of whom were not there last season, Smith still fumes at the ease with which the Reds were able to steamroll the Chiefs in a brief burst either side of halftime.

The Chiefs were unable to respond to the racheting up of the physicality and intensity of the Reds' attack.

"They read the game pretty well to be fair and in about a 12-minute period they attacked us where they felt we were weak and we were found wanting," Smith said.

"It's a game that even though it turned our season around in many respects - we improved hugely after that in some areas - it's still one I didn't like at the time and we're just hoping to put that right.

"We don't need to turn our season around again.

"We just want to keep going."

There has been a keen edge to the Chiefs in training this week by all accounts.

Things looked pretty physical and urgent during Thursday's final major training run but head coach Dave Rennie said the coaches had brought it down "a couple of pegs" from what had been a "very physical" Tuesday session, while Smith said accuracy had received the biggest emphasis this week.

"There is an edge all right.

"The intensity's good, the attitude of these boys is always good and they always front up with effort - we've got no concerns there at all," Smith said.

It was ironic the Chiefs were first in attack and third in defence overall in Super Rugby but believed themselves to be a fair way off their best, he said.

"So there's some rewards to be earned if we can take it up a notch."

Much of that surrounded better maintaining of possession at the attacking end of the field to create pressure on the opposition, rather than putting pressure on themselves by losing the ball at crucial times.

Rennie also grits his teeth and grimaces when reminded about last year's 42-27 loss in Brisbane.

"They went through the middle of us, so that hasn't been lost on us this week and certainly from a defensive point of view a lot of work has been put in around all their plays.

"It is not just their ability to go through the middle but obviously [Will] Genia's ability to challenge you and [Quade] Cooper's ability, and they've got a lot of gas out wide.

"So they're a handful and the easiest way is to deny them the pill."

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There is no doubt the selection of both Tanerau Latimer and Sam Cane - two specialist openside flankers - has been done partly to combat the effectiveness of the Reds' loose trio at the breakdowns.

There must also be some thought to Latimer, Cane and Liam Messam's speed to support the ball carrier, with a big emphasis also having gone on reducing the number of turnovers from ball carriers either becoming isolated or losing the ball when taking it into contact.

The top-of-the-table Chiefs have scored 21 tries in six matches but their defensive record of conceding only 10 is exceeded by the fourth-placed Reds who have given up just nine in seven games, the Australian sides having all played an extra fixture.

The home side will thus need all that improvement in accuracy and finishing if they are to crack the outstanding Reds defence.

There is one other motivating factor for the Chiefs. They know the chance to have a game kicking off in daylight on a Saturday is a rare chance to draw a big home crowd and they don't want to blow it with a disappointing performance.

"If we get a good crowd there, we've got no option, we've got to front and show a spirit and attitude so that we get that following that we started to get last year. "So it is a big game for us," Smith said.

AT A GLANCE

Chiefs: Gareth Anscombe, Tim Nanai-Williams, Richard Kahui, Bundee Aki, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden, August Pulu, Liam Messam (c), Sam Cane, Tanerau Latimer, Brodie Retallick, Michael Fitzgerald, Ben Tameifuna, Hika Elliot, Toby Smith. Reserves: Rhys Marshall, Michael Kainga, Nick Crosswell, Fritz Lee, Brendon Leonard, Andrew Horrell, Patrick Osborne.

Queensland Reds: Jono Lance, Dom Shipperley, Anthony Faingaa, Ben Tapuai, Rod Davies, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Eddie Quirk, James Horwill (c), Rob Simmons, James Slipper, James Hanson, Greg Holmes. Reserves: Albert Anae, Ben Daley, Ed O'Donoghue, Jarrad Butler, Ben Lucas, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Aidan Toua. Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)

- Waikato Times

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