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Why the Chiefs still have 'plenty to work on' despite another big win

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

When the Chiefs outclassed defending Super Rugby Pacific champions the Crusaders in Christchurch in round one, the rugby world agreed that this was a very good team.

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But by their own standards, a glaring issue against Moana Pasifika is separating them from the “great teams.”

After shocking the rugby world with a 31-10 win over the Crusaders last Friday, the Chiefs doubled down on their championship credentials with a strong first half against Moana Pasifika.

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Coming up against Moana in the third match of Super Round at Melbourne’s AAMI Park, the Chiefs were expected to win – and win well.

And to put it simply, the favourites couldn’t have started any better.

Inside centre Rameka Poihipi scored inside the opening 10 seconds of the match, and the score was later confirmed to be a record-breaker – becoming the quickest try in Super Rugby history.

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That score was a sign of things to come, as the Chiefs went on a six-try blitz in the first-half. But it was a game of two halves, as Moana Pasifika played themselves back into the match after the break.

Moana fought valiantly in the second-half, and they outplayed their opponents as a result of their efforts, but the damage had already been done.

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While the Chiefs held on to record a 52-29 win, co-captain Brad Weber admitted the team “let off” after the break.

“The first-half was good,” Weber told reporters. “Now my mate here (gesturing to head coach Clayton McMillan) is probably not too happy with the second half and fair enough too.

“Great teams don’t let off and we let off after halftime.

“They brought a lot more intensity and a bit more attitude than us which is not great so plenty still to look at which I guess can still be a positive thing when you win like that.”

Led by star flyhalf Christian Leali’ifano, Moana Pasifika scored four tries in the second-half against their heavily favoured opponents.

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Echoing the comments from his halfback, head coach Clayton McMillan said there was “still plenty to work on” ahead of their match against the Highlanders in round three.

“Still grateful to get the win and we think that Moana in their second year, we played them in preseason, we could see the improvement that they were making,” McMillan said.

“They’ll keep improving and get better and I’m sure they’re going to get some wins so we respected them.

“For us, it’s probably around setting some standards. Obviously we set a high bar last week are the areas we were really good (in last week), we were poor today.

“It’s nice to win but there’s still plenty to work on.

“Previous victories are not a predictor of what’s going to happen in the future, you still have to go out and earn everything that you get.

“In the first half… there was a lot to be positive about, but the second half in general, I think was just scrappy, slow, no flow.

“As a spectacle I wouldn’t have thought it was too great to watch to be fair.”

The New Zealand teams have been in complete control over Super Round, with the Crusaders and Hurricanes winning on the opening night of the three-day event.

Playmaker Richie Mo’unga played a starring role in the Crusaders’ emphatic win over South Island rivals the Highlanders, while Jordie Barrett also impressed for the Canes.

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B.J. Spratt 5 hours ago
Jono Gibbes' reaction to France U20s putting 55 points on New Zealand

N.Z. Under 20'‘s concede 7 tries to France Unfortunately New Zealand Rugby has lost over 25% + of players between 12-18 over the last 3-5 years, possibly more. Poor administration and a Shocking Public Perception about the NZRFU has finally caught up with these dinosaurs. 66% of N.Z. Population lives North of Hamilton and 52% of Auckland population are Asian, who would rather play football. Rugby is dying while other Sports are growing. The rules need to change around the collision/tackle but personally I think the absolute “Arrogance and Stupidity” that the NZRFU has demonstrated over the decades, “with their jobs for the boys attitude” has led to their demise. A Professional Players Union that can somehow “Disassociate itself from the “Old men with bad breath and dandruff” that is the NZRFU, will be a huge challenge. Personally I think it’s far too late to recover and rejuvenate interest in Rugby by young players. Rugby is booming in France and that’s the difference. A booming Professional domestic League. NZRFU are “Not fit for purpose” and have no idea about commercial reality My kids generation would rather their kids don’t play Rugby. Very aware of CTE and the NZRFU arrogance and stupidity, in denying its existence. Finally, the NZRFU have managed to cover up ”Numerous serious crimes over the decades, committed by players, coaches and administrators simply because the tentacles of their “Power and Influence” have reached all sectors of New Zealand Society, including the Judiciary, Politicians, Police and Big business. Denying CTE even exists is a “no brainer for them”

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