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Preview: Rebels v Chiefs

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Thursday, May 2, 2013     Getty Images

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 1, Rebels 0, Chiefs 1

LAST TIME: Round 3, 2011 - Chiefs 38-10 Rebels at Waikato Stadium

MISSING IN ACTION: Kurtley Beale finally returns to the fold after breaking his hand in Round3 against the Waratahs.

Beale was later suspended indefinitely by the side after punching two of his team-mates while in South Africa.

His inclusion on the bench is the only change for Damien Hill's side.

Meanwhile the Chiefs have made five changes as they look to secure their first win over Australian opposition this year.

Michael Kainga (shoulder) and Nick Crosswell (elbow) were both out due to injury, while Augustine Pulu, Tanerau Latimer and Toby Smith have been named on the bench.

In their places, Brendon Leonard, Sam Cane and Pauliasi Manu have been pencilled in alongside Matt Vant Leven, while Ben Tameifuna also makes a return to the starting lineup.

FORM: Saturday's match-up is a tale of inconsistencies. The Rebels were impressive in their narrow loss to the Crusaders last week, but have virtually offered nothing else throughout the season.

Whether their 16-18 loss to the Crusaders was a once-off or if it's a case of stepping up against New Zealand opposition remains to be seen.

As for the Chiefs, no team has displayed a smattering of hot-cold moments like the visitors. They looked like they would run riot against the Sharks after scoring 24 points in the opening 20 minutes. All but five of those points were erased as their opponents brought it back to 24-19 at half-time.

The Waikato franchise won the match 37-29, but even a one-point would've been generous for a side still struggling to put together an 80-minute performance.

WE THINK: If the Chiefs are to defend their title, they must capitalise on one of the traditionally weaker teams in the Australian conference in the Rebels.

Despite a significant boost with the return of the troubled Beale, the Chiefs should have too much class throughout a backline boasting Aaron Cruden, Tim Nanai-Williams and Gareth Anscombe.

But we've seen only in the last week that the Rebels should be overseen at their peril. Expect a dogged fight and a tight, morale-boosting win for the visitors. Chiefs by 8