Patrick McKendry 's Opinion

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Season report card: Chiefs

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The Chiefs celebrate Robbie Robinson's match winning try in the Super 15 final against the Brumbies. Photo /  Alan Gibson
The Chiefs celebrate Robbie Robinson's match winning try in the Super 15 final against the Brumbies. Photo / Alan Gibson

Each day this week nzherald.co.nz marks the New Zealand Super Rugby franchises following the Super 15 season. In the final assessment Patrick McKendry rates the Chiefs.

Season record:
12-4, 1st in NZ conference, 1st overall

Mid-season grade B+

1. Best result
20-19 v Crusaders, Hamilton, semifinal
Written off by many after the calamity in Christchurch a few weeks prior, the Chiefs had to dig deep to win this one, just as they did a week later to win the final. The Chiefs had never been able to reverse a halftime deficit to win this season before this match, something they did again in the final. Once they got past the Crusaders, though, the title was all but theirs.

2. Worst result
15-43 v Crusaders, Christchurch, Week 19
Outplayed, out-passioned, out-coached - and that was Dave Rennie's opinion.

The Crusaders made the Chiefs look like a bunch of age-graders such was their dominance. This defeat could have cut deep into their psyche and ruined their season but instead the Chiefs used it as fuel to set the record straight in the teams' next meeting.

3. Best player
Liam Messam, Tanerau Latimer, Craig Clarke and Brodie Retallick are all contenders for this one. Ben Afeaki was massive early in the season but was overtaken by Ben Tameifuna. Their backs weren't as consistently good, although Aaron Cruden had his moments, as did Tim Nanai-Williams before his injuries. The prize, though, goes to Messam, outstanding in the final and pretty good for the rest of it.

4. Biggest flop
It's tempting to push Sam Cane into this territory because he didn't progress much for the Chiefs despite being anointed as Richie McCaw's heir apparent. However, he simply didn't get the opportunity to impress - Rennie preferring Latimer in the latter stages after rotating the pair through the season. For that reason Cane escapes in favour of Fritz Lee, a fellow loose forward who dropped off the radar after being overtaken by wider training group player Matt Vant Leven.

5. 2014 Prospects
It would take a brave person to bet against them winning another title. They need new locks to replace the departing Craig Clarke and Romana Graham, a midfielder and a wing. They are holding out for SBW but a move back to Hamilton next year seems unlikely. If he did you could start etching their name on the 2014 trophy.

Other reports:
Blues - C
Crusaders - B
Hurricanes - C
Highlanders - D

- APNZ

Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby writer Patrick McKendry began his journalism career 20 years ago and has worked in newspapers in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. He worked in a communications role on his return here before joining APN before the 2011 World Cup.

Read more by Patrick McKendry

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