With their South African tour behind them and their lofty standing solidified, the Chiefs can look back with wry amusement at the holes they keep digging themselves.

The latest against the Cheetahs was the deepest - a 24-0 deficit after 25 minutes that was eventually rendered irrelevant by the six unanswered tries the Chiefs produced to record an improbable bonus-point win in Bloemfontein.

A week earlier, they conceded a try in the second minute against the Stormers and before heading to the Republic, they had trailed 9-3 until the 50th minute against the battling Bulls and 11-7 until the 65th minute against the Rebels.

The slow starts are unlikely to prove costly in the next few weeks, with the Chiefs set to play three teams in the bottom half of the Super Rugby table, but there will be nothing amusing if, at the business end of the season, they continue to wait so long after the opening whistle to wake up.

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"You won't get away with that too often," coach Dave Rennie said, of his side's comeback. "So obviously we need to start a hell of a lot better."

The Chiefs' early-game struggles have at least provided them a chance to show off a couple of characteristics key to any successful team. Their composure was clear against the Cheetahs, showing no signs of panic, after shipping three converted tries in a 10-minute stretch, and their attacking quality was undeniable, as they roared in front.

"We knew that we had the attack to get us back in the game," Rennie said. "We've got a side that can score a lot of points and score quickly.

"The key was getting our hands on the ball and starting to control the pace. We're really rapt with the character shown to get us back in front and ... pick up the bonus point."

That was the Chiefs' fifth bonus-point victory from seven games, denied only in last week's loss to the Stormers and last month's win over the defending-champion Hurricanes.

Such a record has been built on the back of a defence that has conceded 13 tries in seven games - tied for the best mark in the competition. That stinginess is one attribute that augurs well for post-season success.

The Chiefs kick off the second half of their schedule in Perth on Saturday night, where they will expect more fired up opposition, given the Force also face an unknown fate.

Centre Anton Lienert-Brown is in doubt, after suffering a blow to the knee.