Super Rugby - Chiefs v Hurricanes
Rennie praises bench players' energy
June 28, 2013
Bundee Aki celebrates his first-half try against the 'Canes © Getty Images
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has praised the work of his substitutes as the defending champions produced a divine final 30 minutes to close out the Hurricanes in Hamilton on Friday night.
Two tries in the final 18 minutes ensured the visitors, who trailed 15-34 at that stage, had too high a mountain to climb.
Despite a late try to Alapati Leiua, the Wellington franchise eventually lost the match 22-34 in a result that sees the Chiefs move two points clear at the top of the Super Rugby table with a game in hand.
Rennie told reporters after Friday's match that the depth of their bench has the side in good stead as they look to secure consecutive Super Rugby titles.
"Maybe we're lucky," Rennie quipped. "There's not a lot of difference between the guys who start on the track and the guys on the pine. Those guys gave us a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, they made a big difference."
They were made to work, however, by a desperate Hurricanes outfit who were fighting to keep their slim play-off hopes alive. They weathered the storm and ensured they were marginally ahead at half-time before a Rennie team talk helped the side lift in the second half.
The Chiefs were made to work hard for their victory (Australia only)%]
"When you play these derbies you need to bring intensity and when we did we were much better," Rennie said.
That intensity proved to be the difference between the two teams as the Chiefs scored a bonus-point try with five minutes to play and ensure they sit pretty on 61 competition points with two rounds remaining.
"We lost a little bit but pulled it back in that last 30," captain Craig Clarke said when asked if his side had returned to their best following an obligatory three-week break. "That last 30 did go some way to restoring that. We became more direct and had some set-piece dominations. That has been working for us in our last few outings, especially our scrum."
The Chiefs finish the regular season with away matches against the Crusaders and the Blues before the play-offs beckon.