Elliot confident Chiefs' best to come in semi

EVAN PEGDEN
Last updated 05:00 24/07/2013

Chiefs ready for the semis

Hika Elliot
CHRIS HILLOCK/Fairfax NZ
STEPPING UP: Hika Elliot is confident the Chiefs forward pack will produce a much better effort than last time they played the Crusaders.

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Hika Elliot is brutally honest when it comes to summing up the Chiefs' poor forward effort against the Crusaders the last time the two sides met.

But he is equally certain they can lift well beyond that performance and produce their best game of the season when they take on the in-form southerners in this Saturday night's Super Rugby semi-final at Waikato Stadium.

"We've always gone into the games against the Crusaders knowing that we have to front as a forward pack and if you look back at the last game it was us forwards that got beaten up, especially at the breakdown and lineout time," the Chiefs hooker said.

"We really need to step up in terms of our set-piece and bring an edge and a physicality to our game that people haven't seen this year.

"If we can do that I think we've got the potential in our backline to cut some shapes up in teams."

Elliot said it was "hugely disappointing" to not fire against the Crusaders in their 43-15 drubbing at Christchurch's AMI Stadium nearly three weeks ago.

"We were in it for most of that first half and that try just before halftime [by Crusaders skipper Kieran Read] sort of relieved a lot of that pressure [on them] and put a lot of pressure back on us.

"We chased the game from there and probably chased the game too early. We made too many mistakes at our own end and to get a hiding like that - because it was a hiding - the boys really hurt."

Because of that there was an acute feeling among the squad that they needed to be right on top of their game this week.

But Elliot has no doubt the Chiefs are capable of reaching the level he feels is needed to beat the Crusaders.

"I think we can get there. I know and I understand the character of this team and what we've built over the last year and a half to two years.

"We've got a hard-working bunch of guys that are willing to put their bodies on the line for each other week-in, week-out and I think we're going to show that this week - show how really tight we are."

Lineouts are a definite work-on for the Chiefs and one the Crusaders, with one of the best defensive lineouts in the competition, will again look to exploit but Elliot is confident they possess the scrum to do the job despite the opposition pack comprising all All Blacks.

"I think our scrum's performing really really well and we're getting our ball on our terms and putting some scrums under real pressure so if we can just build on that and really go into a focus that our set-piece - whether it be lineout scrum or kickoff - and the breakdown are going to be key, that is going to be the winning or the losing of this game."

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The Crusaders squeezed the Chiefs in those areas as the game went on in Christchurch earlier this month and used it to trap them in their own half and pressure them into the mistakes.

"If we can't nullify that in their game then we're going to be on the back foot all day and guys like Daniel Carter, Israel Dagg and Tom Marshall are going to have a field day so we really need to shut them down and perform well at set-piece time," Elliot said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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