Preview: Chiefs v Lions

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Saturday, May 3, 2014    James Mortimer    Getty Images

Saturday, May 3, 19:35pm (NZT)

Head to Head: Played 15, Chiefs 11, Lions 4 

Last time: Chiefs 34-21 Lions (May 5, 2012)

Walking wounded: It is quite simple, the two-time winners have the worst injury toll of any team, more than ten players are out of action, including the likes of Aaron Cruden. This has resulted in a mammoth 14 changes to the match day squad, the single biggest change of any team this season.

The Lions are coming off the bye and this has allowed coach Johan Ackermann the double luxury of giving his team time to spend with their families as well as an early arrival in New Zealand to freshen up.

Form: Intriguingly this clash sees the two worst form teams outside the Stormers meet. The champions have won only one game in their last six, while they have suffered back-to-back reverses against contenders the Crusaders and Brumbies.

The Lions early season promise has dulled of late, they have lost their last three matches. While the Chiefs have won the last four game in the clash and never lost to the visitors at home, this contest is a point’s thriller, 61 points is the average scored in these matches.

Key players: Liam Messam has been the one constant all season despite injuries and his performance will be key, but it will be the backs that will come under scrutiny. Gareth Anscombe has played admirably but is struggling to fill Cruden’s boots, while backline shifts, such as Tom Marshall at 12 and Tim Nanai-Williams at 15, will hopefully spark a faltering attack.

The Lions will look to inspirational captain Warren Whiteley at eight, while Elton Jantjies may not possess the same boot as Marnitz Boshoff, he will look to ignite a running display.

Chiefs: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Dwayne Sweeney, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 James Lowe, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Tanerau Latimer, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Ross Filipo, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Pauliasi Manu

Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Ben Tameifuna, 19 Matt Symons, 20 Michael Fitzgerald, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Bundee Aki, 23 Andrew Horrell

Lions: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Courtnall Skosan , 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe

Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 MB Lusaseni, 20 Willie Britz, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 JW Jonker.