Chiefs hope to have Afeaki back
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie hopes prop Ben Afeaki can return to the fray this coming week.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie hopes prop Ben Afeaki can return to the fray this coming week, following the loss of fellow front row forward Michael Kainga.
It appears Kainga's stint with the defending champion Chiefs is going to be cut short.
The Bay of Plenty prop had to be replaced just 13 minutes into his first start for the franchise, injuring his shoulder early in the 37-29 win over the Sharks in Hamilton at the weekend.
Rennie said Kainga couldn't even lift at line-out time, but they should have some cover if he is ruled out.
"There's a good chance that Ben Afeaki will be back next week," the Chiefs coach said.
"He ran today [Sunday] in a lot less discomfort, so we're hopeful there."
Meanwhile Chiefs captain Craig Clarke said he wasn't getting carried away by the win.
A powerful opening burst laid the foundations for the Chiefs' victory, as they raced into a 24-0 lead inside the first quarter.
The victory saw the Chiefs arrest a two-match losing streak and overtake the Blues at the head of the New Zealand conference, while the injury-ravaged Sharks slumped to their third consecutive loss.
Both sides took a four-try bonus point from the match, which was as much a reflection of fragile defensive systems as it was a testimony to their attacking intent.
But the Sharks were denied an additional bonus point when Aaron Cruden kicked a penalty on full-time to extend the winning margin past the seven-point margin.
"It certainly wasn't perfect," Clarke said.
He added that the Chiefs showed accuracy early on, "but maybe it was all a bit too easy", and he was disappointed they let the opposition back into the contest.
But Clarke gave credit to the injury-hit Sharks for the way they came back.
"At the start of our game we were accurate and did some good things but maybe we slipped because it was a bit too easy," the captain added.
"It was disappointing from our point of view to let them come back but credit to them for showing fight for a team that was disjointed by injury.
"Our initial impact of the drive was pretty good, but we were just getting our angles wrong and they're pretty good at going on what angle you give them."
The Chiefs coach, Rennie, was obviously delighted with the win.
"We haven't done it for a couple of weeks, so mission accomplished in regards to the five points," the Chiefs mentor said.
"The points came a bit easy in the first 20. We gave up a few penalties, made a couple of errors, and they were able to put us in the corner and turn it into points. Winning ugly feels better than losing ugly like we did last week."
Rennie said the side had "to find a better way of dealing with it" ahead of their next match against the Stormers in Pukekohe.