Ian Jones: Attacking mentality will win it for Chiefs

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The Chiefs' lineout, which has been pretty solid throughout this campaign, will benefit greatly with the return of co-captain Craig Clarke. Photo / Wayne Drought.
The Chiefs' lineout, which has been pretty solid throughout this campaign, will benefit greatly with the return of co-captain Craig Clarke. Photo / Wayne Drought.

If the Chiefs can get set-phase parity in Hamilton tonight, they will win semifinal number one against the Crusaders - that's not just a statement from a loyal former player but I believe a fact.

The Crusaders completely dominated the Chiefs in all departments of the set phase last time out, including destroying the scrum, making it difficult for Aaron Cruden to set alight his backline.

The lineout was always under pressure, losing six on their own throw and every time Dan Carter kicked short from a restart the ball came back his way.

So how are the Chiefs going to change around such telling statistics, with the mental hangover of four weeks ago?

Attitude with a capital A. At this back end of the season it isn't about building your set phase, it's about delivering and trusting in the work that you have already done.

The set up is the key for me in all three phases of the set piece. The Chiefs will want to get to the referee's mark early, therefore sending a statement saying "we are here, we are ready and we are going to front".

The Chiefs' scrum has performed well this year but it will be up to Ben Tameifuna and Mahonri Schwalger to lead in the first few engagements. An aggressive hit from the off will put doubt into the minds of the Crusaders and stop that confidence expanding into other areas of their game.

Attack and nullify a preserved strength and you start to win the mental battle that will get you across the line. Sounds pretty simple, but I believe those first few hits could be the winning and losing of this game.

The Chiefs' lineout, which has been pretty solid throughout this campaign, will benefit greatly with the return of co-captain Craig Clarke. His uncomplicated approach will simplify things and his presence will take a lot of pressure off Brodie Retallick, who will be targeted by his All Black locking partners in the opposition.

Here the Chiefs need to use their speed to get into the air uncontested and use minimal triggers to indicate where the ball is going to this experienced Crusaders lineout. During their week off the Chiefs would have been reminding themselves of all these basics - hands towards the ball, inside shoulder in front of the opposition's and aggressive movements to make sure they win this important phase.

I would also like to see them attack the Crusaders' lineout so the seven-times champs don't have it all their own way and feel untouchable.

For the Chiefs pack, it is time to go to work and deliver the type of ball your backline deserves.

- NZ Herald

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