Super Rugby Pacific-leading Chiefs chase strong finish

The table-topping Waikato Chiefs are looking to finish the regular season strongly
The table-topping Waikato Chiefs are looking to finish the regular season strongly

The table-topping Waikato Chiefs are relishing an upcoming two weeks in Australia to iron out chinks in their game and seal top seeding for the Super Rugby Pacific final series, coach Clayton McMillan said.

After out-muscling New Zealand rivals the Wellington Hurricanes 23-12 in a waterlogged Hamilton on Saturday for their 11th win in 12 games, they are on course to claim first place in the regular season.

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Eight points clear of second-placed Canterbury Crusaders, McMillan's team need to win only one of their two remaining matches to ensure they will have home advantage throughout the knockout phase.

Both those games are in Australia, against the third-placed ACT Brumbies and eighth-ranked Western Force, with the team opting not to return to New Zealand in between.

"I reckon this trip has come at a really good time for us," McMillan said.

"It's an opportunity for us to get away, live in each other's pockets and have some of those long conversations, go out for dinner.

"It's stuff that you don't often do when you're at home and it'll be good for us. It should set us up nice for when we come back."


McMillan believed his players lacked ruthlessness when their 10-match winning streak ended at the hands of the Queensland Reds last week.

It was a similar problem against the under-strength Hurricanes, with the Chiefs dominating possession but failing to complete many of their attacking raids.

"I fully respect the Hurricanes are a dangerous team and it was important that we bounced back from last week," McMillan said.

"But there was a fair amount of frustration at our decision-making at times and our inability to put the foot on the throat. It was difficult conditions but we just weren't clinical enough.


"In big games, that will hurt you. In a couple of weeks we can't get away with the same mistakes."

Co-captain Sam Cane said the Brumbies would pose a "significant challenge" on Saturday, although that assessment came before the Australian side were upset 34-19 by the Force in Perth -- only their third loss of the season.

"We're looking at a massive challenge in Canberra, it's a tough place to play and it could be the difference between finishing first and second so that's the sort of challenge we're after," All Blacks captain Cane said.