Preview: Chiefs v Blues
Wednesday, March 1, 2017 allblacks.com Getty Images
TALE OF THE TAPE
The Blues appear to have it all ahead of them in this clash after suffering losses to the Chiefs in each of their last 10 matches. To make matters worse for the Blues, the Chiefs have a very strong home record with five wins from their last six matches at home. The Blues will take confidence from their current three match winning streak (including their last two matches of the 2016 regular season). A victory will see them bag a four game streak for the first time since the 2013 season.
QUICK TAP: RIEKO IOANE v ANTON LIENERT-BROWN CLASH CRUCIAL SAYS RENNIE
BLUES BENCH, ALL BLACK
While their starting fifteen is strong, the Blues bench is just as impressive with all eight players having achieved New Zealand representative honours. All Blacks Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Jerome Kaino, George Moala and Rene Ranger are joined by former New Zealand Under 20s star Hame Faiva and Maori All Blacks halfback Billy Guyton. With that kind of power on the bench, there will be no let up for the Chiefs during the full 80 minutes.
Chiefs wing James Lowe was so effective on the intercept last week he may as well have been wearing a balaclava. The electric wing latched onto a loose pass from Aaron Smith early in the Highlanders clash to run away for his first try before an even more audacious steal later in the half. With opposing wing Waisake Naholo looking to counter-attack, Lowe virtually snatched the ball from Naholo’s hands to grab his second. The Blues will need to watch their wide passes with Lowe eager to snaffle any intercept opportunities.
NEW LOOK JERSEYS
Get your Special Edition @SuperRugbyNZ Series jersey and #UnleashDefeat. SHOP: https://t.co/kHnJiUePjj pic.twitter.com/PQP7rpnI9v— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) February 28, 2017Both teams will be wearing new look jerseys for this clash. The jerseys have been specially made to commemorate the 2017 British and Irish Lions series in New Zealand and will only be worn twice throughout the whole season – once this weekend and again when they take on the Lions in June.
Both teams have hit the ground running and will be desperate to keep momentum in the tight New Zealand conference. The Chiefs defence was to the fore in the brutal New Zealand derby against the Highlanders last week and this may give them the edge against the Blues who were barely tested against the Rebels in Melbourne.
It is sure to be a high octane clash at Waikato Stadium with plenty of stars on either side. Get your tickets here and don’t miss a single beat of the action!
Chiefs: 1. Kane Hames 2. Hika Elliot 3. Nepo Laulala 4. Dominic Bird 5. Brodie Retallick 6. Liam Messam 7. Lachlan Boshier 8. Michael Leitch (23)
9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow 10. Aaron Cruden (captain) 11. James Lowe 12. Johnny Faauli 13. Anton Lienert-Brown 14. Tim Nanai-Williams 15. Damian McKenzie
RESERVES: 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho 17. Siegfried Fisi’ihoi 18. Atu Moli 19. Taleni Seu 20. Tom Sanders 21. Jonathan Taumateine 22. Toni Pulu 23. Shaun Stevenson
Blues: 1: Pauliasi Manu 2: Matt Moulds 3: Sione Mafileo 4: Jimmy Tupou © 5: Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Steven Luatua 7: Blake Gibson 8: Akira Ioane 9: Augustine Pulu 10: Ihaia West 11: Melani Nanai 12: Piers Francis 13: Rieko Ioane 14: Matt Duffie 15: Michael Collins
Reserves: Hame Faiva, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Jerome Kaino, Billy Guyton, George Moala, Rene Ranger.
In 2011, @TanaUmaga scored for @ChiefsRugby against @BluesRugbyTeam?, but this Friday night he'll face his old team from the coach's box. pic.twitter.com/4eWWViRHBf— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) March 1, 2017
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