It has been a sorry start to the Chiefs Super Rugby Aotearoa season as they have yet to pick up a win in their opening three games.
So far the Waikato side has come up against the Highlanders, the Blues and the Crusaders and bar a close game against the Highlanders, have looked somewhat a shade of the team that was contesting the top of the table in Super Rugby before the Covid-19 shutdown.
Against the Crusaders the Chiefs again struggled, thanks to errors and poorly timed conversions.
Aaron Cruden did his best to spark the Chiefs, but his attempted offloads didn't go to hand as the Crusaders defence scrambled all game long. This was a frustrating theme for the Chiefs – turnovers at key moments and the failure to convert attacking momentum proving costly.
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The lockdown was not good for the Chiefs. While others such as the Highlanders returned a vastly improved unit, the Chiefs have instead regressed into a team seemingly bereft of confidence.
Injuries to their second-row continue to hurt their set piece but the skill execution across the board will be causing coach Warren Gatland headaches. So, too, their lack of tries.
Sam Cane's trademark hits were to the fore and he single-handedly snuffed out one Crusaders rolling maul five metres from the line just before half time, but his efforts and a second half try from Sean Wainui were not enough to get the Chiefs off the mark which leaves them well off the pace.
The Chiefs now return home to face the Hurricanes, another team that is in turmoil in what could be the battle of who finishes with the wooden spoon this season.
After the Hurricanes the Chiefs will then have a week off to collect themselves before starting round two of the season with a home game against the Highlanders.
They kick off at 3:35pm on Sunday at FMG Waikato Stadium.
-Additional reporting New Zealand Herald