PREVIEW: Reds v Chiefs
Thursday, April 19, 2018 Lynn McConnell Getty Images
Won: Reds 10, Chiefs 11.
Last time: Chiefs 46-17 Reds, Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth, May 6, 2017
After losing their opening game to the Rebels (19-45), the Reds put together three wins, two of them at home against the Brumbies (18-10) and the Bulls (20-14) while they beat the Jaguares (18-7) on the road but have lost their last three to the Stormers (19-25), the Brumbies (21-45) and the Waratahs (16-37). The Chiefs also lost their first game of the season, to the Crusaders (23-45) but then put five wins together, against the Blues (27-21), the Bulls (41-28), the Sunwolves (61-10), the Highlanders (27-22) and the Blues again (21-19). But their last outing was a 13-25 loss to the Hurricanes.
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THE GEORGE SMITH FACTOR
He might not have played so far this season but former Wallabies flanker George Smith has been playing a key role for the Reds. As starting loose forward Angus Scott-Young said on the rugby.com.au website, Smith has been running 'breakdown tutorials' after training for the Reds' loosies and it has been invaluable for the young players. "He's got little bits of knowledge that you just wouldn't pick that he's discovered over his career. He brings so much experience to the game, even just talking to him around training," he said.
MILESTONE QUEENSLAND DAY
Back at home after six weeks, the Reds will mark their 1000th first-class game in 136 years. It's been a history of mixed fortunes, with long periods in the rugby doldrums but some memorable periods of strength, most notably during the late-1970s and early-1980s when the Queensland resurgence during the Bob Templeton era made its impact on a vastly-improved Australian game. Then there were good times during the 1990s and in the years around 2011 when the Reds won their only Super Rugby title. The Reds will be buoyed by the return to action of prop Taniela Tupou and halfback Ben Lucas while former Brumbies veteran George Smith has been included on the bench, set to make his first appearance of the season after back surgery late last year.
From the respective statistics for the season to date, the Reds could be in for a tough night, even with the Chiefs significantly down on experience as a result of injury. They dominate in all the key statistic areas. Significantly, they are the best in the competition for metres made at 593.3 compared to the Reds 400.7, which is 12th, while in clean breaks the Chiefs are also first with 17.9 and the Chiefs on 11.7. In defenders beaten the Chiefs are on 28.0, second in the competition, compared to 25.3 for the Reds and they are also second in offloads with 12.6 compared to 7.4. In terms of scrum success the Chiefs also dominate 93 percent to 86 percent while the scrums and rucks between the sides are much closer.
Coming off their loss to the Hurricanes last week, the Chiefs have to go back to May 2015 to find back-to-back losses in regular season play while the Reds have lost their last eight games against New Zealand teams. (Opta)
Reds: 1.James Slipper (captain), 2.Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3.Taniela Tupou, 4.Izack Rodda, 5.Kane Douglas, 6.Angus Scott-Young, 7.Liam Wright, 8.Caleb Timu, 9.Ben Lucas, 10.Jono Lance, 11.Izaia Perese, 12.Samu Kerevi, 13.Chris Feauai-Sautia, 14.Filipo Daugunu, 15.Aidan Toua.
Substitutes: 16.Alex Mafi, 17.JP Smith, 18.Ruan Smith, 19.Harry Hockings, 20.George Smith, 21.Moses Sorovi, 22.Hamish Stewart, 23.Jordan Petaia.
Chiefs: 1.Karl Tu'inukuafe, 2.Liam Polwart, 3.Angus Ta'avao, 4.Brodie Retallick, 5.Tyler Ardron, 6.Lachlan Boshier, 7.Sam Cane (captain), 8.Pita Gus Sowakula, 9.Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 10.Damian McKenzie, 11.Solomon Alaimalo, 12.Johnny Fa'auli, 13.Anton Lienert-Brown, 14.Sean Wainui, 15.Charlie Ngatai (captain).
Substitutes: 16.Samisoni Taukei'aho, 17.Sam Prattley, 18.Jeff Thwaites, 19.Luke Jacobson, 20.Liam Messam, 21.Brad Weber, 22.Marty McKenzie, 23.Alex Nankiville.
How good are Ben Lam and Solomon Alaimalo? Have the Blues unearthed a new star? Is Ben Smith back to his best? Find out this and more as Piri Weepu looks at all the action from round nine! ?????? pic.twitter.com/CHXQmvOeQo— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) April 16, 2018
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