Blues, Chiefs stalemate leaves coaches Tana Umaga and Dave Rennie dissatisfied
Blues coach Tana Umaga's reaction to his side's 16-16 stalemate with the Chiefs on Friday night was typical of that which comes with the dissatisfaction of a draw.
While pleased with his side's efforts after the demands which come with travelling to Africa, Umaga was of the firm opinion that it was a result which could easily have gone against them - and so often in the past, it had.
"We probably did enough to win it, but we also made enough errors to lose it too," said Umaga.
"There was a lot of heart and that’s one thing we can rely on now is our grit to get us through."
Both teams contributed to a heavy error rate as slippery conditions made life difficult at Eden Park, turning periods of possession and pressure into points proving a struggle in either direction.
But after the Chiefs forward had their way with their Blues counterparts in their first clash of the season, Umaga was pleased with the way they bounced back against such a high standard of opposition, revealing a certain additional source of inspiration.
"We had Steven Luatua and Charlie Faumuina possibly playing their last home game which it probably is now, I know that meant a lot to us so there was a bit of emotion out there."
"It was tooth and nail right to the end. You take your hat off to a quality Chiefs pack, the experience they have and the pressure they put on. And our boys stood up, that’s all we can ask."
Veiled positives aside, the defeat has certainly closed the door on the Blues' playoffs aspirations for 2017. Even a win would've had them reliant on some unlikely Highlanders slip-ups through their remaining three matches.
"But it's just that ruthless edge I suppose, those teams that do have it can put the points on when they need to and not make so many errors."
On the other side of the ledger, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie mirrored most of the emotions of his northern counterpart.
Rennie was left largely unimpressed by the both the performance of his side and the match itself.
"It was pretty flat, and it was a pretty average game of footy, I thought," he noted.
"I almost felt like it flattered us the score but, to be honest, both sides had plenty of chance but both sides were inaccurate and couldn't look after the ball, so maybe a draw's a fair result in the end."
The Glasgow-bound coach refused to blame the challenging conditions for his team's lack of cohesion, singling out the telling 11-4 penalty count against his men as unacceptable.
"We just didn’t build pressure for long enough, and the discipline was poor.
"We gave away some really dumb penalties from our big men up front. We have to sort that out, it's killing us."
One standout for the Waikato-based franchise was fullback Damian McKenzie, who scored one seering try and defended stoutly all evening, particularly under the high ball.
With Cruden's departure for France imminent there's been plenty of talk about him potentially shifting to the first-five position, however Rennie himself was adamant that from fullback is where he produces his best.
"We've played him at 15 because I think he's one of the best 15s in the world.
"I know everybody keeps calling him a 10 out of position, but he wouldn't have been an All Black if he was only a 10.
"He's certainly been in great form for us, he's been outstanding this year."