Rugby: Chiefs know teams will target their scrum

By Kris Shannon

The Chiefs scrum struggled against the Lions yesterday. GETTY IMAGES
The Chiefs scrum struggled against the Lions yesterday. GETTY IMAGES

If the Chiefs need any extra motivation to repair their ailing scrum, a quick glance at the schedule will provide plenty.

After struggling in both pre-season and last week's win over the Crusaders, a one-sided battle at scrum time eventually proved decisive in the Chiefs' narrow loss to the Lions yesterday.

Both the power of the South Africa side's pack and the interpretations of referee Andrew Lees contributed to a platform that was unstable and ill-disciplined for much of the match.

And it's not going to get any easier. The Chiefs will today embark on a tricky two-match road trip, firstly meeting the Kings in Port Elizabeth before travelling to Buenos Aires to face the Jaguares.

Whatever the inadequacies of the Kings, the new South African side will be sure to test the Chiefs' set-piece. As for the Jaguares, a shadow Argentine national team, well, even the All Blacks can suffer in the face of the pressure Los Pumas apply.

"Our set-piece is going to have to be pretty sharp because there's no doubt another African side will see that as an opportunity to target us," said coach Dave Rennie. "And no doubt the Jaguars will think the same. They have a massive scrum and will try challenge us there, too."

The challenge of the Lions proved too tough in Hamilton yesterday, particularly in a first half that set the tone. The Chiefs were penalised time and again as Elton Jantjies kicked his side in front, with some of Lees' decisions raising Rennie's eyebrows.

"You're always going to argue around scrums," the coach said. "We just have to do a better job of defending that and painting a picture."

With that said, though, Rennie was wary of pointing the finger at the man with the whistle, knowing his players had left plenty of room for improvement.

"We're not trying to blame the referee for our issues," he said. "Our issues were our own. At scrum-time, we know we're going to be targeted so we have to do a better job."

- Herald on Sunday

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