Chiefs will learn more from narrow win - McMillan

rugby11 June 2023 08:49| © Reuters
Clayton McMillan © Getty Images

Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan says his team's difficulties in overcoming the Reds will ensure greater focus from his players as they move into next weekend's Super Rugby Pacific semifinals.

The Chiefs will take on the Brumbies after handing the Reds a 29-20 loss in Saturday's quarterfinal in Hamilton when Pita Gus Sowakula's late try and the kicking of Damian McKenzie were the difference between the teams.

"Everybody, including all of our fans, would have loved us to have run away with the game, but I reckon we'll learn more from this," said McMillan.

"If we'd won by 20 points, I think our week might have looked a bit different. This will just bring a bit of an edge and a realness around finals footy.

"Sometimes, it's not going to be pretty, but you've just got to get the job done. For a whole number of reasons, being put under pressure today, I think, will be really good for us in the run."

The Chiefs had been expected to progress through to the semifinals after finishing on top of the Super Rugby Pacific standings with only one defeat in 14 games.

That loss, a 25-22 reversal in May, had come against the Brad Thorn-coached Reds and McMillan was not surprised that the teams played out another close contest.

"I think they're a better team than what the points table has shown," McMillan said.

"For whatever reason, when they play us, they seem to grow another leg or just the way they play makes it a real grind.

"There's certainly a few more grey hairs there, but I'm really proud of that last 15 minutes, where we went down, got direct.

"We were able to build phase counts, were able to score points when it mattered, and we won the game and that's all that matters."