Patience the key to taming the Chiefs: McKenzie
Will Genia and Digby Ioane ... identified by the Chiefs as the two Reds most likely to break through their defence. Photo: Getty Images
Coach Ewen McKenzie is preaching patience as his Queensland Reds simply must rediscover their attacking precision to end the Chiefs' nine-match Super Rugby winning streak when they clash at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow.
For the sake of their play-off hopes, Super Rugby's defending champions need to upset this year's front-runners in what promises to be an entertaining Sunday afternoon spectacle in front of a 35,000-plus crowd.
A loss is non-negotiable as it will leave Queensland 13 points behind the Brumbies on the Australian conference table with six rounds to play.
The Chiefs, with All Black pair Aaron Cruden and Sonny Bill Williams in career-best form, have overtaken the Reds as the competition's most clinical attacking unit.
While the Waikato-based outfit average 28 points a game and are the most effective at converting their opportunities in opposition territory, spluttering Queensland have scored only 18 tries in their 10 matches.
Their defence was back to its impregnable best in the 15-11 loss to the Crusaders, keeping the seven-time champions tryless in Christchurch, but the Reds know it's time for their ball-playing to click.
Keeping an unchanged backline for just the second time in an injury-riddled season will help in that endeavour but McKenzie said it was essential his players keep their heads to convert their chances near the line.
"We're probably a bit frustrated because we're one of the best team at getting up into the attacking quarter but we just haven't been able to capitalise on that," he said. "We've just pushed it a bit too much.
"We've taken the wrong options or haven't protected the ball enough.
"We just haven't been as patient as much as we were last year and some of that is due to youth, we're still one of the youngest teams in the competition, and it's all part of the learning curve."
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has identified Wallabies stars Will Genia and Digby Ioane as the two men his side must target in defence, while not allowing the Reds any counter-attacking opportunities on turnover.
The same will apply for Queensland as Cruden, Williams, Richard Kahui and Lelia Masaga - who have a knack for scoring on first-phase possession - are even more lethal in open space.
Although Quade Cooper still remains sidelined, the Reds attack has been improving with playmakers Ben Lucas and Mike Harris now in their fourth match back, while Harris and centre partner Anthony Faingaa are justifiably confident of containing Williams and Kahui.
The pair kept Dan Carter and Robbie Fruean quiet in Christchurch after trumping Blues dangermen Ma'a Nonu and Rene Ranger the week before in Auckland.