Frustrated Rennie says Highlanders are ‘really good’

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie says that he felt his players should have used their
wingers more but admitted that the Highlanders are “a really good side”.

The Chiefs hopes of winning a third title came to an end with a 24-14 loss
to the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.

Rennie said that he wanted his players to play a game with more width in their
Super Rugby qualifier and spread the ball out to players like James Lowe and
Bryce Heem.

“They put us under a fair bit of pressure and we overdid trying to go
through the middle, and just trying to get a bit of balance to our game,”
Rennie told Stuff after the match.

“We trained for that all week but didn’t make enough shifts in that area.
We did have chances if we had spread it after corralling them in the middle
– but we tended to go up the middle again and ran into their numbers.”

“That was a bit frustrating but the Highlanders did a good job of defending
us.”

Rennie also admitted that the Chiefs also let themselves down when defending
the Highlanders attacks.

“They scored a couple of slick tries from scrums, where we should have
done a better job defending them to be honest,” Rennie lamented.

“But you have to take your hat off to them, they were very clinical.”

The Chiefs had All Blacks in hooker Hika Elliot, loosies Sam Cane and Liam
Messam and lock Retallick in their forward pack while the Highlanders had no
internationals in theirs.

Given the number of internationals in his pack Rennie said that he had hoped
for more dominance and success against the Highlanders especially the set-piece.

“Yes, we did. They have done a pretty good job on us, the last two times.
Josh Hohneck’s been very strong on the tighthead side and we thought we could
apply a bit of pressure there. ”

“Their forward pack’s pretty unheralded, they are very sharp and lineout
time, have a good scrum and are very mobile around the track.

“I thought they went well tonight.”

Under Rennie’s guidance the Chiefs have won two titles and have never missed
making the play offs but like this year they were knocked out in the qualifying
round.

“It’s a disappointing way to finish, especially for the calibre of players
we have got leaving,” Rennie added.

“Guys like Liam Messam (who is expected to be involved in the Rio Olympics
sevens build-up) and those six or seven or eight players who are going.”

“It would have been nice to give them a decent send-off. But you have
to give it to the Highlanders, they have had the wood on us all year and are
a really good side.”

In 2015 the Highlanders beat the Chiefs, three times – 17-20 in Hamilton, 36-9
and 24-14 in Dunedin.

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