Slow starts for the Chiefs or just fast finishes?
Another week, another win sparked by a second-half comeback for the Chiefs.
It’s becoming something of a habit for the club, whose 51-14 win over the Waratahs in Wollongong on Friday night was the third time they’ve won a game in which they trailed in at halftime.
Even in their decimation of the Sunwolves in round three, the Chiefs found themselves behind on the scoreboard early. Now with a 4-1 record through six rounds, which included a bye, their sole loss to the Brumbies — a 26-14 loss in Hamilton — might have shown the blueprint for how to beat them: score early and often, and hope your defence holds up late.
So far this season, the Chiefs have scored 121 of their 170 points in the second halves of games. In their loss against the Brumbies they were down 19-0 at halftime.
“It doesn’t matter who you play and at what level, usually in the first 20 or 30 minutes they’re going to be pretty tight contests and you just have to stay focused for that whole period,” Chiefs coach Warren Gatland said.
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“At this level you know you’re going to be in an arm wrestle probably in the first half. It’s just about addressing a few things at halftime, getting it right, taking a bit of a break and building on that confidence.
“We’ve been very strong in the second half so we feel like we’re in a pretty good shape from a conditioning point of view.”
Against the Waratahs, the Chiefs came out of the gates firing and ran out to a 13-0 lead. However, a couple of soft penalties opened the door for the hosts to hit back, and come halftime the Chiefs trailed 14-13.
The second half as a different story, as the Chiefs ran in 38 unanswered points to come away with a dominant win. Despite having to make more tackles and having just 40 per cent of the possession, the Chiefs outscored the Waratahs seven tries to two to claim their first win away to the New South Wales club since 2007.
“Even for the first half I wasn’t that unhappy with it,” Gatland said of the match. “I thought we started well and that was a whole focus.”
The Chiefs will now head back to Hamilton and turn their attention to their third local derby of the season against the Hurricanes on Friday.
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