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Chiefs continue search for better set piece

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Sportal.co.nz     02 Apr 2014     Getty Images

Hit hard by the Bulls lineout drive at Pretoria before escaping with a 34-34 draw, the Chiefs are expecting more of the same from the Cheetahs, although they will also bring the challenge of coping with their expansive game.

Assistant coach Tom Coventry said the Cheetahs also tended to use more variations with their lineouts and in their overall play were more like a New Zealand or Australian side in their approach.

"They will be a tough outfit to roll. They had a poor tour of Australasia but they beat the Bulls earlier and they are back at home," he said.

However, he said it was only natural teams would look to exploit a perceived weakness in their opponents and the Cheetahs would undoubtedly look to have a crack at the Chiefs in the lineouts.

"It is a big part of the game over here. We had a university team train against us in Pretoria and even they showed us what they could do. It [the lineout maul] is a forgotten art in New Zealand. We will try to knock it off at its source," he said.

Captain Liam Messam said the side continued to address their lineout issues and said it came down to communication, understanding and execution on their own ball and added that with two young hookers in the side it was a lot about building their confidence.

They needed to shut down the mauling play on the opposing team's plays at the source and they had been working on plans to dismantle that threat.

Messam did say that the recovery in fortunes at the weekend that was boosted by the bench players having an impact was a result of having what he called the team's 'sparkplugs' lifting the performance when they come on.

"The character we showed when 10 minutes out it didn't look as if we could win was something to be proud of," he said.

The side has had a blow with prop Ben Afeaki returning home with more head concerns. Having returned to the side after a fearful concussion in the first game of the tournament, he took another blow during training in South Africa and experienced similar symptoms as earlier.

It was decided to send him home for the right care given the global concerns with concussion injuries.

Coventry said the injury situation the team was in would not detract from the focus as the Chiefs' policy about injuries was always to have confidence in those chosen to play.

Messam said the Chiefs had been analysing the opposition areas they could attack but the main requirement for that was having the basic aspects of their game in better shape.

It was all very well being able to score tries from your own goal-line, he said, but it was easier to score tries when you were in the right parts of the field. And that came from having confidence in the set-piece.