The Chiefs will be starting their Super Rugby Pacific playoff campaign on home soil.
One of three teams with the potential to secure a home quarter-final in the final round of the season, the Chiefs got the job done – just - with a 35-34 win over the Fijian Drua in Lautoka.
Hot and humid conditions surely played a part in the unconvincing display from the Kiwi outfit, with a lot of handling errors creeping into their performance –underneath the high ball and when attempting to move the ball through the hands.
They also fell off a lot of tackles, made evident when the Fijian side were able to go the length of the field 10 minutes from the final hooter in a play that saw four players miss tackles on Drua wing Vinaya Habosi when he picked the ball up on his own tryline, before another fell off a tackle on eventual try scorer Kalaveti Ravouvou.
What the Chiefs can take from their performance was an impressive tactical kicking game – particularly that of centre Rameka Poihipi. Not a usual starter, Poihipi impressed with his vision and execution – making the Drua pay for keeping a high defensive line and kicking several 50/22s to give the Chiefs great field position.
The Chiefs were forced into a change in their spine early when Josh Ioane had to replace Kaleb Trask after he got an attempted cleanout wrong, appearing to go head-first into a Drua defender and quickly falling to the turf.
Their issues with keeping the ball in hand started quickly as while they had some enterprising voyages into Drua territory, they were awfully loose and often the ball had to be scooped up off the floor.
Still, in good field position, they made the Fijian side pay. Prop Angus Ta'avao could have been mistaken for a midfield back with the line he ran against the grain to latch onto a flat Bryn Gatland pass and burst through a hole in the defence for the game's first try. He was followed over by Gatland moments later and the Chiefs shot out to a 14-0 lead.
The Drua had chances, but like the Chiefs, their execution was lacking. Eventually they were able to get over through centre Apisalome Vota, finishing off a quick - albeit messy - period of ball movement. In the end, Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick got the unofficial assist, toeing a loose ball into the path of Vota on the tryline.
An Emoni Narawa try on the hooter gave the Chiefs a 14-point lead at the break, but the Drua were better early in the second half, kicking two penalties to close the gap.
That work was undone by a brain explosion when Habosi attempted to haul in a restart that was sailing out in play, batting it back infield but watching it be swooped up by Quinn Tupaea, who put Narawa in for his second.
It was set up for the Chiefs to kick on with the job, but instead the Drua lifted. They outscored the Chiefs three tries to one in the final 15 minutes to run the visitors within one point, with time left on the clock to steal the upset.
However, they were unable to pull off any more magic in the final minute as the Chiefs defence held up to close out a shaky win.
Chiefs 35 (Emoni Narawa 2, Angus Ta'avao, penalty try, Bryn Gatland tries; Gatland 4 cons)
Fijian Drua 34 (Apisalome Vota 2, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Timoci Sauvoli try; Teti Tela 4 cons, 2 pens)