Gallagher Chiefs to approach Blues differently ahead of Hamilton encounter

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Games between the northern neighbours have weighed heavily in favour of the Chiefs over the last decade. However, the scales have levelled out due to a slip in the Chiefs' results and improved form by the Blues.


And while the Chiefs had ended a record run of 10 losses, the Blues were reminded that they are not yet the real deal when losing to the Crusaders on Sunday.


There is no lack of importance in the game for both sides.


Chiefs assistant coach Nick White said a better set-piece and a reduction in penalties conceded had been a big help for the side in their win over the Hurricanes at the weekend.


"We played a lot more territory, got into a lot better field position and held onto the ball, so it's funny how, when you do those things, they turn a little bit," he said.


Nothing changed when preparing to meet the Blues. It came down to preparing well at training, further reducing errors, and putting in the correct play for longer.


There had always been a positive air among the side, despite the run of losses. They had worked hard and gave it everything they got, but it was good to see more smiles on faces after breaking the win deadlock.



"I'm pleased for them because they've got a bit of reward for all their hard work," he said.


It was satisfying how the first five-eighths' position was handled against the Hurricanes, with Kaleb Trask starting on his return to the side. Fullback Damian McKenzie had worked well with him before stepping into the role and working with replacement fullback Chase Tiatia.


"They've all done pretty well and Damo's [McKenzie] done really well coming up from fullback, and I thought he played really well. I don't think he overplayed his hand either. He just did what he needed to do, and did it really well," White said.


With Bryn Gatland also in the mix, there was always plenty of weekly debate about the position. That was because each of the players concerned was putting their hand up.


Dealing with the Blues would require some different approaches to the Hurricanes, he said.


"Everyone knows they've got a big pack. They will probably try and come through us a lot. They've got some big backs too, so I think the thing for us is to make sure all our stuff is squeaky clean. We're going to have to front up because they'll be coming for us after not getting the result they wanted.


"They'll want to get back on the winning track as quick as they can, so the most important thing is that we make sure we nail our stuff, otherwise we are going to be in for a long, long night," he said.


There were lessons from how the Crusaders defended against the Blues, catching them behind the advantage line, and White said the Chiefs would need to get up and make their tackles.


"You know what they're like if you give them half a chance, they've got offloads, guys with different skill sets that they can punish you. That's the first part of it, getting up off the line and getting in their face, but there're a few other parts to it.


"It's a big challenge for us, but we need to put a decent performance together because I don't think we've won there since the Crusaders last year so the Waikato people, and Chiefs people in general, will be pretty keen for us to have a win," he said.



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