If there was ever any doubt as to the high standards the Chiefs coaches demand of their team, the players were reminded in blunt fashion at Waikato Stadium on Saturday night.
On the surface a 45-3 bonus-point, six-tries-to-none victory over an expansive Cheetahs side from South Africa would appear a pretty satisfactory night in just their second competition game of this year's Super Rugby championship.
But anyone watching the match, either among the 12,000 at the ground or on television, can tell you that for nearly 60 minutes almost everything except the standout defence was well off the level that took the Chiefs to title honours in 2012, with four of those six tries coming in the final quarter.
By all accounts there were some fairly sharp words spoken in the changing rooms during halftime, when the Chiefs fortuitously led 10-3, and head coach Dave Rennie was still grumpy about those early efforts by the time the post-match press conference rolled around.
"There were a couple of beeps," Rennie said in reference to what he had told the team in regard to finding some urgency, composure and general smartness to get their game back on track after a number of "schoolboy" mistakes.
Skipper Liam Messam confirmed there had been some stinging words during the break and the players were left in little doubt they had allowed their standards as champions to drop.
"We were defending pretty much all that first half and any ball we did get we weren't good with it," Messam said.
"Our set-piece was terrible - our lineout didn't function and our scrum didn't function as well as we thought it would - so there's nothing like a good halftime telling off to get us back into the moment."
Rennie admitted it had been frustrating up in the coaches' box watching his team play much of the opening stanza without the ball and struggle to get things going.
"I don't know whether the guys' minds were on making sure they were on a plane to head to Africa tomorrow but it wasn't good enough.
"The scoreline may indicate that we were dominant but there were a lot of schoolboy errors out there and we wouldn't have beaten too many teams tonight," Rennie said.
They struggled to launch anything on attack from set-piece, they allowed the Cheetahs to get in and slow their ball down at the breakdowns and they took three steps back from the previous week's quality of ball carries, urgency and support play, he said.
Add to that a number of handling errors and the Chiefs struggled to get their usual high-tempo offensive game going for a long time.
"We always felt we had the winning of the game but it came with a rush near the end I guess and we should have put them out of it a lot earlier, but the positive is we got five points out of it and head off to South Africa reasonably unscathed."
But if it was frustrating for the Chiefs' coaches, spare a thought for Cheetahs mentor Naka Drotske, who had to watch his side hold an edge throughout in set-piece play and command over 70 per cent of territory and a majority of possession in the first half only to finish the game with just the three points off Johan Goosen's boot to show for it.
"I thought in the first half we should have scored two tries and should have led at halftime but we didn't and we talked at halftime about how we had had all the ball and nothing to show for it," Drotske said.
He felt the turning point for getting the Chiefs' attack rolling was the Brodie Retallick charge-down that led to prop Ben Afeaki's try in the left corner just two minutes after the restart.
"They played really well in the second half and we were outplayed in the second half. They are a quality side.
"Just the way they defended in the first half. I thought we attacked with a lot intensity and we couldn't score against them.
"They are a quality team, especially in New Zealand, and the way they played the second half I don't think there are a lot of teams that can beat them this year," he said.
At times the Cheetahs attacked well from depth in the first spell and they recycled the ball repeatedly will but mostly they went wide for the sake of going wide and became lateral and easy pickings for the well organised and energetic Chiefs defence.
Lock Brodie Retallick was a constant for the Chiefs in almost every phase of play and his workaholic efforts led the way for the home side, with Messam, Sam Cane, Afeaki and Mike Fitzgerald not far behind.
When they finally got their attack going and their superior fitness kicked in against a tiring Cheetahs side there was only one team in it, sweeping moves involving fast hands and strong support play as well as speed to and effectiveness at the breakdowns swamping the helpless visitors.
Then we finally saw the superb running and passing skills of first-five Aaron Cruden, the sniping play of halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow when he replaced an out-of-sorts August Pulu and the deadly attack powers of the back five of Bundee Aki, before sent from the field by a knee to the thigh, Tim Nanai-Williams, Lelia Masaga, Asaeli Tikoirotuma and Gareth Anscombe.
Anscombe's goal-kicking was again top-drawer, his seven-out-of-seven effort plus try earning him 20 points to give him 41 from just two outings in Chiefs colours.
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