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'Young' Chiefs team will learn from experience

'Young' Chiefs team will learn from experience

All BlacksJune 24, 2024

Yielding early penalties and being inaccurate in the white-hot atmosphere of the DHL Super Rugby Pacific final was too much for the Chiefs, who lost 10-41 to the Blues at Eden Park on Saturday.

Coach Clayton McMillan said it was disappointing that the side was barely able to fire a shot in the final after all the work they had put in.

"We've got to give credit to the Blues. They played a really good game tonight.

"They've played the same style of footy all year, and the conditions probably played into their hand, but we weren't able to front up in the areas that we wanted to and weren't accurate enough.

"We gave away plenty of penalties, that gave them access into our half, our 22, and it made it tough on us."

He said they believed they earned the right to be in the final but encountered a better team on the day.

"The sheer weight of possession – we were lucky, maybe, to get 30 per cent [33-67] of possession, and a lot of that was in the wrong parts of the field. That starts to take its toll.

"We didn't fire enough bullets to put the pressure back on them.

"But you have to give credit to Vern [Cotter] because he's come here, he's recognised the athletes that he's got and he's flipped the script on the way that the Blues traditionally played and it has paid huge dividends. We tip our hat to them for that."


They were prepared for the power of the scrum, and they knew the forwards would come through the middle. While they did a good job of defending that, they were overwhelmed by the sheer weight of possession, especially in wet conditions.

In that situation, the point of the ruck was constantly changing, making it crucial to get back onside, and the Chiefs suffered.

"That's classic finals footy, and they played it really well."

Having also lost last year's final, it hurt again.

"Last year's final hurt because we felt we'd fired lots of bullets and did enough to win. This one hurt because we didn't fire any bullets."

McMillan said the side would recover. They were hurting, but they had quality players, and as the youngest team in the competition, statistically, they would continue to get better and eventually win a title.

"That's all I can say. We've got some great men, and we'll learn and grow.

"I'm not using this as an excuse, but we lost some significant cavalry last year, and we came into the season with a bit of a favouritism tag. But we've had to grow; each individual has had to learn their place in this team.

"Luke's [Jacobson] done an awesome job leading the side and the future is bright. We'll bounce back."

Jacobson said he felt the Chiefs started well again, and while they pressured the Blues into poor exits, the Blues took their chances when they came. Coupled with inaccuracies and penalties, they set a bad picture for the referee.

"Once you set that picture to start with, the referees starting looking for that on your side of the ball a little more."

He felt they had sorted that out in the quarter-finals and semifinals, but it came undone against the Blues.

Your 2024 #SuperRugbyPacific Champions 🏆#BLUvCHI pic.twitter.com/IrGCQrnFgf

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) June 22, 2024

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