Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Rugby: No thrills victory gives Chiefs champion look

Hurricane TJ Perenara clears the ball before the Chiefs advance. Photo / Getty Images
Hurricane TJ Perenara clears the ball before the Chiefs advance. Photo / Getty Images

When Dave Rennie inherited the Chiefs in September 2011, people weren't expecting him to work miracles. Now they expect his side to win every week.

Such is the success that fans always want more and a few scratchy wins in recent weeks haven't satisfied their desire for running rugby and rampant victories.

Friday night's 17-12 win over the Hurricanes in Wellington wasn't a game filled with highlights but it was the type of victory that makes a champion - they did the grunt work, played to the conditions and banked four competition points.

Rennie said after the game that he felt the the groundswell of support for his side, who won their maiden Super Rugby crown last year, and the demands the public now have of them.

"I think the good thing is that the expectations of people is that they want us to win more convincingly and that's a real shift from 18 months ago when there were no expectations.

"So obviously we've made an impression in that area and like them we want to win well and win convincingly but in difficult conditions, in an arm wrestle, against a bloody good side, we'll take that," Rennie said.

Little separated the sides at Westpac Stadium except a second-half try to Chiefs openside flanker Tanerau Latimer, which proved the difference as both teams kicked four penalties.

One of the Hurricanes' best on show was halfback TJ Perenara, who has produced a string of eye-catching displays in recent weeks.

The 21-year-old was one of four halfbacks named in the All Blacks' wider training group during the week, alongside Chiefs No9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, who had a hand in the try as he provided the last pass to Latimer.

Perenara said he didn't see his battle with Kerr-Barlow as a shoot-out for All Blacks honours or to get a step ahead in Steve Hansen's eyes.

"Every game I go out and play I'm a little bit competitive with the opposing halfback so the All Blacks is irrelevant," Perenara said.

"Even if we weren't competing for a New Zealand spot I'd still be going out there with the same intentions. I want to play better than each halfback every week and that's just the nature of the game."


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