It's little surprise which area Super Rugby leaders the Chiefs have underlined for a big improvement as they face the Hurricanes in the final round of the regular season.

The Chiefs are backing up from a 28-21 defeat to the Crusaders in Hamilton, where they were dominated at the set pieces by a pack boasting an All Black in every starting position.

Skipper and lineout caller Craig Clarke's late withdrawal through illness didn't help the home side.

But flanker Liam Messam is blunt about how the Chiefs performed at scrum and lineout time.

"It was pretty terrible," he said.

"We know as a forward pack that's not acceptable and we're going to have to be better against the Hurricanes to make sure we give our backs the ball they want."

Messam said the intensity the Crusaders brought with them was a lesson for the Chiefs.

"That's a great learning for us as a team and especially as a young team," the All Blacks loose forward said.

"Most of those guys haven't played footy of that intensity before. If we can learn from it as a whole group, then we can be the better for it."

However, Messam also gave his teammates plenty of kudos for the way they fought back from an early 20-6 deficit to be in with a chance of snatching a draw at the death.

Defeat reduced the Chiefs' lead at the top of the table to a solitary point over the Stormers.

They know they won't get any favours in Wellington on Friday night from the eighth-placed Hurricanes, who are still in the battle for a play-off spot.

"This is a very difficult and dangerous Hurricanes side," Messam said.

"We know they will be coming at us, because they need to win as well. We just have to make sure we have a better week than we did against the Crusaders."

NZ Newswire

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