James Mortimer 31.Jul.2012Getty Images
The Chiefs were 20-17 victors over the Crusaders in the Investec Super Rugby Semi-Final, in a match that was summed up by the way the New Zealand Conference champions stood up to a team that had outmuscled them earlier in the month.
Being in the faces of their opposition has been a hallmark of the Chiefs play throughout the 2012 campaign, and there has been plenty of feeling at training sessions as ‘live fire’ runs have seen players push each other during the week.
Chiefs co-captain Liam Messam told the Waikato Times that it was the dirty dirties – or dirt-trackers as they are unflatteringly called in some circles – that set the tone for the team leading into their crunch match against the Crusaders.
"It all started with our DDs, the guys in the squad who were not playing, giving us a tickle-up at training” he said.
"They got stuck into us on Monday and that was the benchmark we set all week.
"That was a good wake-up call for us and let us know where we need to be so it was good to come out and have that steel."
Coming into the Super Rugby Finals Series on the back of consecutive losses wasn’t ideal preparation for the Chiefs, and coach Dave Rennie said that the internal training sessions allowed his troops to rediscover their mojo.
"In the end you've got to find some edge somewhere and we've always found that we've fronted better when we've worked harder throughout the week,” he said.
"We've had a couple of weeks where we've tapered off and haven't fronted as well so the guys who we call the sparkplugs last week got off the line and got in amongst us and were destructive.”