Growing belief rewarded for Chiefs

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Saturday, March 23, 2019    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Chiefs coach Colin Cooper said it was a great effort by the side and lived up to the usual expectation from their supporters that they were expected to win every game.

"When the team puts it together like they did today it explains why those expectations are very high on the Chiefs. Led by Brodie they just played so well, things stuck, they got offloads away, we sped the game up, we went really well," he said.

Cooper said the side had to cope with a lot of changes through players being unavailable, and with the loss of experience resulting in new players coming in.

"It's a pretty unforgiving stage Super Rugby so we struggled to keep the ball, we struggled to defend well and last week we got a lot of belief and getting away together and putting it together today was great," he said.

It had also been a deliberate ploy, especially at altitude, to use a kicking game through both first five-eighths and fullback Damian McKenzie but also second five-eighths Alex Nankiville. It had been part of the game that hadn't been going well but they dominated territory as a result.

Two-try scoring captain and lock Brodie Retallick said he felt like the team had been improving in recent weeks and coming off last week's draw with the Hurricanes had been a good time to go on tour and come together as a team while also sorting out some of the smaller issues that had been affecting the performances.

"It's a tough place to come and play good rugby but to get a win like that and see the boys smiling along with our first win is hugely satisfying and a good start before we head to Argentina next week," he said.

Bulls coach Pote Human said it seemed from the kick-off that the roles appeared to be reversed and it was the Chiefs who loved to play at Loftus Versfeld.

The Bulls were flat and the Chiefs had the energy that the home team didn't have, he said.

"We were very poor today and we allowed them to look like they were on the right track again. I know we are better than this, we showed that in three of our first four games but this is a bad one to take and we have to take it on the chin and come back stronger next week," he said.

The Bulls had prepared to cope with the increased intensity the Chiefs, the first New Zealand side they had faced this year, would bring but it wasn't enough.