The Western Force were left to rue two missed chances after slumping to a heartbreaking 22-21 Super Rugby loss to the Chiefs in Pukekohe on Friday night.
The Force trailed 19-11 at halftime but had the opportunity to win it in the 78th minute when flyhalf Sias Ebersohn lined up for a 53m penalty.
Ebersohn's kick of the water-logged ball fell well short, but the Force created another good attacking opportunity shortly after when they had a lineout 30m from the tryline.
However, a crooked throw from hooker Heath Tessmann let the Chiefs off the hook yet again, with the defending champions holding on for the win despite scoring just one try to the Force's two.
"You're always frustrated when you don't come away with the result," Force coach Michael Foley said.
"And one as close as that, you probably think about the little 'what ifs'.
"They're the things that run through every player's mind when you first sit in the sheds after a narrow loss."
The Chiefs' only try of the night came through winger Lelia Masaga in the 14th minute, but five penalties and one conversion from flyhalf Aaron Cruden were enough to keep them in second spot on the table.
All Black Cruden was meant to have had an easy night on the bench, with coach Dave Rennie eager to give the overworked playmaker a rest.
But when replacement Gareth Anscombe was ruled out with a broken toe before kick-off, the Chiefs were forced to throw Cruden back into the starting line-up.
The Force made a perfect start with winger Patrick Dellit making the most of a horror pass from Matt Hodgson by toeing the ball forward twice before touching down.
The Chiefs looked rusty in the dewy conditions, but were aided by whistle-happy referee Mike Fraser, who penalised the Force seven times in the opening 26 minutes.
Cruden capitalised by nailing four penalties in the first half, but a second try to Dellit in the 62nd minute closed the gap to just one point.
The sin-binning of prop Kieran Longbottom in the 72nd minute hurt the Force, but they continued to create chances at the death, only to let them slip through their fingers.
Foley said he was proud of the second-half fightback, especially with the team coming off a six-day turnaround and a long trek to New Zealand.