Chiefs pivot Aaron Cruden believes his team's heroic defensive effort in the first half paved the way to their 11-8 win over the Blues in Auckland on Friday.
The victory lifted the Chiefs from eighth to a temporary fourth place at the start of the final round in which nine teams remained in contention for top-six placings.
The Chiefs weathered that metaphorical storm during the opening period, then asserted themselves by balancing the ledger of territory and possession, then taking the lead with a Cruden penalty - the only points of the first half.
"We probably made harder work of it than we needed to," said Cruden.
"But we knew it was going to be a tough cookie here against the Blues.
"I'm stoked for the boys. They showed a lot of character, especially in that first 20 minutes and we were able to hang on in the end."
The Blues suffered their sixth straight loss to the Chiefs and finished the season at the bottom of the New Zealand conference, though they stayed in play-off contention for the length of the regular season.
"I suppose we just left it a little bit late in the season," said James Parsons, who ended the match as Blues captain.
"We shouldn't have been in this position. We had plenty of chances in other games to win. But the boys showed a lot of character which is great and we're building towards next year with a young side."