Recognising that if they want to be genuine Super Rugby Pacific title contenders, the Chiefs took plenty from their inability to maintain their stranglehold of the game in a poor second half against Moana Pasifika in Melbourne on Saturday.

Co-captain and halfback Brad Weber said great teams didn't let off, which the Chiefs did after halftime when Moana Pasifika brought more intensity and more attitude than the Chiefs.

"There is plenty still to look at which I guess can be a positive thing when you win like that."

Coach Clayton McMillan said they had played Moana Pasifika in their pre-season, and in their second year, they will keep improving.

But the Chiefs had set a high bar in their first-round win over the Crusaders, but where they had been good in that game, they were poor on Saturday.

"Around the breakdown, our carry-clear game was where we pride ourselves, and they out-passioned us.

"In the first half there was a lot to be positive about but the second half in general was scrappy. There was no flow in the spectacle and I wouldn't have thought it was too great to watch."

Weber said it was good to have first five-eighths Damian McKenzie back after his stint in Japan.

"I've been playing with Damian for over 10 years now. It is great to play with him, I know where he is going to be. We play a similar style, we are both little men who like to play quick. He leads the team pretty well, he's got the full range of skillsets; he's quick, brave, you run out of superlatives for him."

Moana Pasifika coach Aaron Mauger said the second-half effort from his side demonstrated its spirit.

"Other teams may have laid down and had 80 points put on them, and I'm proud of them for winning that second half after being 38-3 down.

"We didn't give in and showed what we are capable of when we get it right, it was a massive comeback."

Mauger said at halftime that it was a case of not giving the opposition too much respect and instilling a belief they could put the Chiefs under pressure.

"The first actions after halftime were outstanding. We talked about inspiring each other with our actions."

There was an energy lift, which resulted in their first try, and now it was a case of getting that happening in the first moments of the game, not just the second half.

They showed they had nothing to fear when they could play like that, so it was a case of lifting that for their next game when meeting the Force.

"But you have to give credit to the Chiefs; they are an outstanding team. Their intensity around the breakdown and their ability to get back up, get set and keep knocking us over early on was outstanding.

"They're going to be dangerous in this competition and they've proved that in the first couple of weeks."