The Chiefs celebrated the return to their Waikato Stadium fortress with a scrappy 22-16 win over the Melbourne Rebels in Hamilton to cement their place at the top of the New Zealand Super Rugby conference.
Coming off a tough tour of Australia and South Africa, the double-defending champions stormed to a 19-0 lead by the 24th minute but were dragged into an attritional second half by the Rebels' hard-working forwards and the boot of first-five Jason Woodward.
Woodward's third penalty put the Rebels within a converted try with 64 minutes on the clock but the visitors repeatedly coughed up possession in the final minutes with a series of handling errors to surrender the match.
Replacing injured first-five and co-captain Aaron Cruden, Gareth Anscombe tallied 17 points for the Chiefs and helped set up the home side's sole try to lock Michael Fitzgerald in the 14th minute with a line-break.
Japanese hooker Shota Horie grabbed the Rebels' only try three minutes after halftime.
The Chiefs now have 24 points five ahead of the next best New Zealand side the Highlanders.