McMillan's final premonition comes true

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The Chiefs upset the Hurricanes 30-19 in Wellington in the second semifinal on Saturday to set up the top of the north final.

Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan said the semifinal was a great game, with both teams throwing everything at it.

"We got off to a good start. We needed that because we saw a bit of anxiety and tension in the Hurricanes' performance last week and felt that if we could get off to a good start, it might tighten them up.

"So, it was good that we got away early, and then it just became a real arm wrestle in every aspect of the game."

He said that while he was proud of many of the Chiefs' actions during the game, he was most pleased with the last five minutes when they secured half a dozen turnovers.

"If we didn't get those then they may have been able to score and quickly convert, and then it would have been all on again."

The Chiefs won a lot of little moments, proving the difference on the day.

McMillan said his comment after playing the Blues in the regular season that they would see them again in the final was a little presumptuous, but it was because the Chiefs' only way to the final was a game at Eden Park.

He took confidence from the way his side prepared behind the scenes.

"We've accepted all along the road that we haven't been perfect. We haven't played perfect rugby. We've been different this year, but we've been growing our game.

"Sometimes what you see on the weekend is a little clunky, but it's all about trying to get to this time playing your best rugby.

"And the last two weeks, we've played some good rugby and we'll have to take another step up next week, and it doesn't get any easier."

McMillan said there had been a lot of talk about the semifinal being an All Blacks trial of sorts, and if that were true, then several Chiefs would have their name pencilled into the squad to be announced next week.

Player of the match No8 Wallace Setiti would be a contender after his play over the last few weeks.

"He's been consistent with his performance. He's young, he's still got plenty to learn. But some people just have something about them that catches the eye, and he's one of them. But he only gets to do what he does when everyone else around him is working hard."

Although Samisoni Taukei'aho is missing from the line-up for the final, the Chiefs have named the solid hooker-pairing of Tyrone Thompson to start and Bradley Slater on the bench. There were concerns that the Chiefs may have to elevate a hooker from outside the squad to play in the final when two hookers went down in the semifinal in Wellington and midfielder Rameka Poihipi was left to throw the ball into the lineout.

Gallagher Chiefs team to face the Blues:

1. Aidan Ross 2. Tyrone Thompson 3. George Dyer 4. Jimmy Tupou 5. Tupou Vaa’i 6. Samipeni Finau 7. Luke Jacobson (captain) 8. Wallace Sititi 9. Cortez Ratima 10. Damian McKenzie 11. Etene Nanai-Seturo 12. Rameka Poihipi 13. Anton Lienert-Brown 14. Emoni Narawa 15. Shaun Stevenson
Reserves: 16. Bradley Slater 17. Jared Proffit 18. Reuben O’Neill 19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit 20. Simon Parker 21. Xavier Roe 22. Quinn Tupaea 23. Daniel Rona