Chiefs ride high on confidence into their bye round

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Coming off their 20-13 win over the Blues in Hamilton on Saturday, captain Brad Weber said the side was in a different position than usual at the head of the ladder.

"In the past few seasons, we've been in the pack chasing the leaders. Now we've got to get used to having a bit of a target on our back and everybody chasing us.

"That brings a lot of excitement in the group. I think we've got a group that rides high on confidence. It is sky-high at the moment. I love it when our boys are walking around with a bit of swagger about them.

Coach Clayton McMillan said he was delighted with the defensive qualities the Chiefs showed.

"They threw a lot at us for large periods of the game. We struggled to get out of our quarter, but the boys kept getting up and working hard for each other. That was more pleasing than the nice tries that were scored.

"There're a lot of good signs. We've won all of our games in different circumstances – we've been pretty, we've been uglay, and today the defensive effort was massive."

McMillan said there was still more finish to be applied, but the side was heading in the right direction.

"When you have games like that, that could quite easily swing the other way, you keep working hard for each other and get the result."

While the bye was welcomed after six challenging games, he said the side's effort was expected whenever they played the Blues at whatever time of the season.

"It's what's required to be there at the business end of the competition," he said.

Blues coach Leon MacDonald said the effort was like that against the Crusaders a fortnight earlier, where they had parity of possession. It was frustrating not to get the win, but he was confident the side was moving in the right direction.

"Although the results aren't coming our way, we know they will come if we keep working hard."

He said that the inability to get the ball down over the line and other little errors were sometimes mistakes made when a side was trying too hard.

"You can't fault the effort and energy from the guys. We put in a good shift today and during the week, and sometimes that happens in sports. But we're not losing faith and confidence - we're heading in the right direction.

"If anything, we should be excited about where we are heading in our game. The boys are feeling disappointed but we don't have time to mope, we need to get our chins up pretty quickly because the Rebels are a good team and we need to go and get a job done."

Captain Dalton Papali'i said he wondered after the game what might have happened if shots at goal were taken earlier rather than looking for tries. But he felt at the times they occurred, they had scrum dominance, and with team leaders, they thought it was the right option.

MacDonald and Papali'i felt the Blues played better on Saturday than when beating the Chiefs in Hamilton last year.


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