PrevieW: Chiefs v Blues
Thursday, March 28, 2013 Getty Images
HEAD TO HEAD: Played 19; Chiefs 9, Blues 10
LAST TIME: Round 15, 2012 - Blues 34 Chiefs 41 at North Harbour Stadium
MISSING IN ACTION: Halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow's strong start to the Super Rugby season has been thwarted by a broken jaw sustained against the Highlanders at Waikato Stadium in Round 6. His absence will be boosted somewhat by the returning Brendon Leonard, who is set to make his comeback off the bench.
For the Blues, prop Charlie Faumuina will sit out the next six rounds of the competition with a right calf strain. Not all news is bad, however, with Anthony Boric's return to the team following disc damage in his neck a welcome return to full fitness for Sir John Kirwan's men.
The Chiefs have been solid if unspectacular so far this season. Having dropped one match, a two-point thriller against the Stormers in South Africa, the Chiefs have benefited from coach David Rennie's ability to field his best XV, whether in their preferred positions or not.
After a strong start, the Auckland franchise has dropped in confidence following losses to the Bulls and Waratahs in their last two matches. However, the side has already had a bye, meaning they can focus on just what is needed to progress to the next stage of the competition so early on.
WE THINK: A lot of noise has been made about Gareth Anscombe's return to face his former team, and there is no doubt emotions will be running high.
An ability to mainain composure and discipline for 80 minutes will be the key priority for both sides at Baypark in Mount Maunganui.
Winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma scored four tries against the Blues last year to secure a 41-34 victory, so expect to see plenty of pace on the sidelines as the Chiefs look to make full use of the field width.
It looks set to be a battle royale - it always does when these two sides meet - and it's only fitting that we pick a small margin that will see the Chiefs squeak home to the delight of the Mount Maunganui faithful. Chiefs by 4