Chiefs get boost ahead of Crusaders clash

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Facing the defending champion Crusaders in their next outing, Chiefs coach Warren Gatland was delighted with the confidence boost his side took from their 37–29 win over the Blues in the Investec Super Rugby opening game in Auckland on Friday.

 

The performance was one that would be improved, especially as Gatland felt the side had been underdone with only one pre-season game and an internal hit out as their only preparation for the season.

 

"The performance can improve but the result was pretty paramount," he said.

 

While Aaron Cruden had demonstrated his class and experience, Gatland said Kaleb Trask had also played well without the same opportunities that opened up in the second half for Cruden.

 

Mistakes and turnovers by the Chiefs in the first half were compounded by the Blues playing well and racking up a 19-5 lead, he said.

 

"The message at halftime was to be more decisive, to carry well and be accurate with the ball and we were much better in the second half," he said.

 

The bench had done a great job for the side with Cruden and midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown's experience especially helpful after the break while Pita Gus Sowakula at No.8 and Lachlan Boshier in the loose had also been impressive.

 

"I was pleased with many people in the squad and we got much better in the second half and much more accurate and the scoreboard in the second half probably reflected that," he said.

 

They had attempted to put the pressure on the Blues, especially when they ran the ball back at them and that had the desired effect with the Chiefs able to capitalise on turnover ball.

 

Improved scrummaging in the second half also helped with Atu Moli playing a big part in that by shifting to the tighthead side of the scrum where he had been brilliant, Gatland said.

 

"He probably got us out of a hole," he said.

 

All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala was one concern for the Chiefs. He twice went down for extended treatment before resuming but finally succumbed around the end of the first quarter. Gatland was unsure of the extent of his injury.

 

His replacement another All Black Angus Ta'avao had come through a test pre-game for a head knock suffered in training but said at halftime he wasn't feeling well and Moli took his place.

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