Preview: Chiefs v Lions

Although they tried hard they were no match for the Blues and this match could be the one that will see the Chiefs break their 2007 duck.

VENUE & TIME: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, Friday March 16, 19.35 NZT.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 11 � Chiefs 7, Transvaal/Gauteng/Cats 4.

LAST TIME: February 17, 2006 (Johannesburg) � Cats 21-16 Chiefs.

WALKING WOUNDED: It just goes on and on for the Chiefs; as well as all the old long-term injuries they have lost Mils Muliaina to a foot fracture before he played a game for them. Niva Ta'auso is still suffering from the neck problems he picked up against the Cheetahs and Steven Bates joins the army on the bank where he will rest a sprained ankle. One day � in 2017, maybe � Ian Foster will have a full squad to pick from but it won't happen this year. The Lions are in reasonable shape, as Andre Pretorius' foot injury last week was a minor one and he is back for this match. Cobus Grobler and Earl Rose, however, picked up shoulder injuries that will see them miss this game.

FORM: The Chiefs are still winless but have managed to take points from every game � how often can you say that about a team that sits in 12th spot? They have shown sufficient flaws to make that placing right but they do threaten to get a win some time soon. The Lions won four straight, admittedly against teams that did not play particularly well, but got a reality check at Eden Park last week. From what we saw they don't have the speed to cover the better New Zealand teams and they may struggle again this week.

WHO'S HOT: It's hard to say anyone in either team has been in commanding form in 2007. Most have had their moments but none have had those moments consistently. Perhaps the standout is Lelia Masaga, whose extreme speed and improving finishing ability see him at the top of the Rebel Sport Super 14 try-scoring ladder. Keith Robinson has made an important contribution since he returned and Liam Messam and Brendon Leonard are young players who have shown pleasing advances. The Lions forwards are coming to grips with the competition�s demands � most of them are in either their first or second season � and the set pieces are fine. Work needs to be done at the breakdown, a point freely acknowledged by coach Eugene Eloff. Better second-phase ball would allow Andre Pretorius, Jaque Fourie and Co more chances to put opposing sides under pressure.

WE THINK: We think the Chiefs will finally get one in the win column this week. While the Lions have enjoyed a good run they are not strong enough to win consistently at this level, while opponents are finally giving them due respect and are no longer being slightly careless in their preparation. We have a sneaking suspicion that the Chiefs are ready to cut loose and tip them by 10+ points.

TEAMS:

Chiefs:1 � Simms Davison, 2 � Tom Willis (captain), 3 � Nathan White, 4 � Kristian Ormsby, 5 � Keith Robinson, 6 � Sione Lauaki, 7 � Marty Holah, 8 � Liam Messam, 9 � Brendon Leonard, 10 � Stephen Donald, 11 � Roy Kinikinilau, 12 � Tasesa Lavea, 13 � Tane Tu'ipulotu, 14 � Lelia Masaga, 15 � Dwayne Sweeney.

Reserves: 16 � Aled de Malmanche, 17 � Ben Castle, 18 � Toby Lynn, 19 � Tanerau Latimer, 20 � Jamie Nutbrown, 21 � Niva Ta'auso, 22 � Jared Payne.

Lions:1 � Heinke van der Merwe, 2 � Willie Wepener, 3 � Brian Mujati, 4 � Willem Alberts, 5 �Anton van Zyl, 6 � Cobus Grobbelaar, 7 � Ernst Joubert, 8 � Jacques Cronje, 9 � Jano Vermaak, 10 � Andre Pretorius (captain), 11 � Wylie Human, 12 � Jaco Pretorius, 13 � Jaque Fourie, 14 � Louis Ludik, 15 � Jaco van Schalkwyk.

Reserves: 16 � Ethienne Reynecke, 17 � Bertus Smit, 18 � Gordon Gilfillan, 19 � Franco van der Merwe, 20 � Enrico Januarie, 21 � Louis Strydom, 22 � Jan-Hendrik Boshoff.


REFEREE: James Leckie