The Chiefs scraped home to beat the Western Force.
The Force outscored the Chiefs two tries to one, but Aaron Cruden’s boot was the difference as the Chiefs narrowly won 22- 21.
Pat Dellit scored twice for the Force, either side of half time, to give the Chiefs a run for their money. The Chiefs struggled to gain ascendency in the match that was not entertaining.
Cruden, who got a late call to start the match, kicked five penalties and a conversion to score 17 points on the day. Cruden replaced Gareth Anscombe after the latter picked up a foot injury during the captain’s run. Anscombe has been doing all the kicking this season, but Cruden looks capable of taking those duties for the six weeks that Anscombe is set to be out with.
The shuffled Chiefs backline, without Richard Kahui and Tim Nanai-Williams, lacked go forward and struggled to get over the advantage line. Cruden struggled to get his team on the front foot, something he specialises in.
The Force lifted their game, as they do against tougher opposition, and nearly pulled off a surprise win. They kept themselves in the game through penalties, while the two tries from Dellit kept it closer than it should have been.
The Chiefs did spend a good ten minutes of the last quarter on the Force tryline, but could not capitalise on the one man advantage to put the game beyond doubt. The Force lost a prop to a yellow card for repeated scrum penalties, but managed to keep the Chiefs out and give themselves a chance to win it at the death.
The Chiefs take on the travelling Hurricanes in Wellington next week while the Force host the Sharks.
Chiefs: 22 (19)
Tries: Lelia Masaga
Conversions: Aaron Cruden (1)
Penalties: Aaron Cruden (5)
Force: 21 (11)
Tries: Patrick Dellit (2)
Conversions: Jayden Hayward (1)
Penalties: Jayden Hayward (3)
By Richard Ferguson