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Finals memory steels Chiefs

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Sportal.co.nz     30 Jul 2012     Getty Images

That was immediately obvious in the aftermath of the 20-17 win over the Crusaders on Friday as celebrations were subdued.

Flanker Liam Messam said the memory of the disappointments associated with that hiding by the Bulls was behind their subdued approach.

"We probably celebrated a bit too much when we made the final [in 2009], enjoyed the occasion too much," he said.

It was now a case of making sure they had a bit of steel about themselves as they prepared this time, he said.

"This group of men are willing to do whatever it takes for each other," he said.

"We know the job's not done. There's still a little bit of steel and edge to the boys which is good. We know we've got a big week ahead of us."

Messam said the semi-final had been exhausting, an 80-minute effort. But that was something the Chiefs had expected.

"It was pleasing to finish the way we did. They had the ball in our 22m [area] and we pushed them back into their own half," he said.

Putting the pressure on the Crusaders from the outset by getting into them defensively was the only way to beat them, he said.

"You've got to get stuck into them – it starts at the kick-off. The boys flew in from there and it just snow balled effect into the last minute. It's important to set the tone from the start and have strong body language."

Messam was able to put his running game into stunning effect, several times charging through the defences on effective angles in powerful surges.

"The whole week we broke down their game and saw opportunities where we could get our attack going and that's down to Dave Rennie and Aaron Cruden having a great plan to attack the Crusaders and as you know that plan worked," he said.

It was now a case of getting back to work on Monday, going through the preparation and being ready for the Sharks on Saturday.

The combination of new blood in the team and older hands building the team culture had made him proud as the longest-serving member of the side.

They had also been under additional pressure as a result of the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic winning the ANZ Championship. Captain Casey Williams spoke to the team ahead of the Crusaders game and reinforced that the Chiefs needed to believe in themselves