Rennie relieved with Chiefs' narrow win
May 10, 2013
Aaron Cruden helped ensure the Chiefs came away with another close win © Getty Images
A feeling of relief was overshadowed by frustration for Chiefs coach Dave Rennie as his side almost let another match slip from its fingers, this time against Western Force.
Not for the first time this season, the Chiefs were made to work hard for a victory that looked to have been secured with the final 10 minutes of the match to play.
In this instance, it was the sinbinning of Force prop Michael Longbottom that looked to have given the Chiefs their third consecutive victory and their second straight win over Australian opposition.
However, an inability to secure points when close to the Force line almost backfired when fly-half Sias Ebersohn lined up a 50-metre penalty attempt to steal the win with less than three minutes left on the clock.
His attempt was well short and the Chiefs survived, but only just.
While understandably relieved, Rennie admitted he and his assistant coaches spoke about what was going wrong for the defending champion and its inability to close out matches.
"We sort-of got in the situation where we should have closed that out comfortably, but didn't," said Rennie, who added that making the right on-field decisions was one of the things that needed improvement. "We had opportunities to put them in the corner and strangle them down there, but then we go through multiple phases."
Add to the fact the side is missing a number of key midfielders and it's easy to see why the defending champion isn't just struggling for cohesion - it's often struggling with confidence.
"We're missing a bit of personnel and the guys we've got on the track are fighting hard - we'll take one-point wins on days like that."
Aaron Cruden boots Chiefs to victory (Australia only)
One area of improvement that Rennie noted was in defence. The side, whose defensive lapses almost cost it twice in the past two matches, was up to the task. There were the occasional hiccups, including two that resulted in tries to Force winger Patrick Dellit.
"I think the intent was good. I thought the pack went pretty well, there was lots of defending in tight, the set piece was pretty strong."
Rennie also acknowledged the performance of Save Tokula, whose last cap was when the Chiefs were humiliated by the Reds in their final match of the 2011 season.
"It's a test out there for them, but it is what it is - guys have to turn up to front."