Clayton McMillan had two words for how his side were able to steal victory from the jaws of defeat against the Blues.

“Just character,” said a proud Chiefs coach, not long after witnessing the stunning finish to the Battle of the Bombays in Hamilton on Saturday night.

Down four points going into the final minute and staring down the barrel of extending their seven-game home losing streak into new record territory for a Kiwi team, the Chiefs pulled off a miracle, as a Luke Jacobson burst and offload finished with a Damian McKenzie try and a 15-12 win.

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Damian McKenzie scores the match-winning try in the Chiefs’ last-gasp win in Hamilton on Saturday night.

It was an unbelievable climax at FMG Stadium Waikato, a week after the Chiefs’ similarly frantic finish against the Hurricanes in Wellington, and one which now all of a sudden has them with an identical 2-2 record to the Blues and right back in the mix at the halfway point of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

The margins are fine in this five-team all-Kiwi comp, alright.

“They’re small when you lose and they’re small when you win,” McMillan said. “I’ve been saying that for a few weeks now, we’ve been on the wrong side of a few things over the first couple of weeks, but happy to be on the right side this week.”

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Chiefs fans finally had something to cheer about – some 413 days since their team last won at home.

Having strung together three decent halves of footy, but also three awful ones, McMillan had been calling on something resembling an 80-minute display, and he was finally able to witness one, delighted with the guts shown by a banged-up squad which had 10 players unavailable for this match.

“I thought that was a great 80-minute performance,” he said. “It could easily have gone the other way, but just the tenacity and resilience and the effort that these guys put in, week in, week out, they deserve that result.

“There’s a lot of young guys, and they got put under the blowtorch on the big stage and they fronted when it really mattered. So, I couldn’t be prouder of a young squad, which have not listened to the outside noise, and just gone on about their business. And today, hopefully they answered a few questions.”

No more was that evident than at scrum time, where the Chiefs enjoyed a surprise dominance over the much-vaunted Blues pack, which features four All Black props, and another three current All Blacks in the starting pack.

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The Blues players feel the pain after their loss to the Chiefs at FMG Stadium Waikato.

“We’ve got a couple of ex-ones, and a whole bunch of no names,” McMillan said. “And they stood up.”

All this a fortnight after the Chiefs’ pack was blown off the park by the Crusaders.

“[Scrum coach] Nick White’s put a lot of effort in, and the boys just know that you don’t get any free scrums,” McMillan said. “So [there’s been] a shift in mentality where, ‘nobody gives us a chance’, and to use that as fuel and motivation to prove people wrong. And they reallly just bit down on the mouthguard today.”

The Chiefs now have a bye to refresh, and it might not be the worst timing considering their double digits sickbay, along with the fact captain Sam Cane left the field gingerly qith quarter of an hour to play.

“He took a bit of a stinger to the shoulder, don’t know where that’s at, but hopefully he’s good,” McMillan said.

Meanwhile, Blues coach Leon MacDonald was left to lament a “disappointing” performance, which ultimately came down to a touch-and-go unsuccessful captain’s challenge on Jacobson’s offload to Chase Tiatia in the lead-up to McKenzie’s clincher.

But MacDonald felt no reason to feel aggrieved with that, or a try to Dalton Papalii rubbed out 10 minutes prior for maul obstruction.

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Blues coach Leon MacDonald was critical of his side turning down kickable penalties against the Chiefs.

“I’m definitely not going to complain around any of the decisions, because ultimately the result was our own doing,” he said.

“We made a lot of errors, especially in the first half, we struggled to hold the ball, we were a bit wonky at the set piece again and unable to get our game going.

“Some of our defensive efforts were really good, and if it wasn’t for some penalties that just kept letting them off the hook, it could have been a different story.”

MacDonald was also critical of his side repeatedly turning down kickable penalties early on.

“From the box we were pretty happy to go to the posts, but they felt they wanted to try and get into the game and get their maul going etc.

“It’s something we’ll discuss. Tight games, you accumulate points when you can.”

The Blues now turn their attention to hosting the Hurricanes at Eden Park next Saturday night.

“We’re back in the pack, and every game becomes critical,” MacDonald said.

This content was originally published here.