Chiefs' brutal assessment of Perth performance

EVAN PEGDEN
Last updated 05:00 26/03/2014
Wayne Smith
Photosport
TOUGH APPROACH: Wayne Smith says the Chiefs played poorly in all areas against the Western Force.

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Wayne Smith says the Chiefs have been brutal in their assessment of the poor performance that led to their Super Rugby upset loss to the Force in Perth and are demanding a big step up in Pretoria this weekend.

Assistant coach Smith said from Johannesburg last night that the 18-15 defeat last weekend, in which the back-to-back champion Chiefs were held tryless in Australia for the first time in 13 years, was by far the poorest performance by the team in the two-and-a-bit seasons he had been involved, but wasn't "terminal".

"I don't think we had quite the attitude that we had in the previous games this year. I don't think the preparation was as good or as genuine as what it's been and we probably let our standards down in just about every area," Smith said of the team's first loss in 2014.

Chiefs winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma said the players' individual preparation last week had not been good enough.

"I don't want to denigrate the Force because they're going well, they're proving they're genuine contenders, have won three in a row and are playing with a lot of spirit - they were almost Chiefs-like in the way they approached the match," Smith said.

"We just didn't seem to play with the intensity we normally do . . . it was a pretty average team performance."

The Chiefs had the players to do the job and had to show that this weekend against the Bulls at the daunting venue of Loftus Versfeld, where any win by a visiting team was special.

"That's the message this week. We've got to really steel up and be at our best to try and win at this place.

"I can remember winning here a few times and they were huge occasions and games I will always remember," the former All Blacks and Crusaders coach said.

Smith said there would be anxiety this week among the players regarding selection, hinting at several changes.

"When you perform like that, every player is up for a selection competition. We've been known for keeping the edge in the team by changing people and not putting up with poor performances."

If the Chiefs came into the match against the Bulls as they did against the Force they would have "no show".

"We've been pretty brutal about that with the team, so we've just got to prove we can get back to the levels that make us proud and go from there."

The Chiefs' set-piece, particularly the lineout, has been an ongoing area of concern this season and the Force exploited that with their driving play from that platform, also an area of strength for the Bulls.

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"We're going to be up against the best lineout in the competition and with probably the best lineout forward in the world running it in Victor Matfield, so that's a huge challenge for our forwards.

"But we've had a lot of these challenges before and what we do know about this team is that there's plenty of character . . . we've just got to execute better under pressure. It'll come."

Smith said the Chiefs could not afford to give "dumb" penalties away virtually anywhere on the field because the Bulls would kick to the corners and drive from the resulting lineouts.

But he warned about assumptions the Bulls were just a forward-oriented team.

"They've actually moved the ball quite a bit and have got quite a potent backline. They're quite a multi-faceted team."

One positive to come from the Force game was the lack of further injuries to a squad badly hit in both pre-season and early season, with all players on tour this week available for selection, despite a hamstring strain keeping Tim Nanai-Williams out of training yesterday.

- Waikato

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