PREVIEW: Chiefs v Force

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Thursday, March 24, 2016    Getty Images

Chiefs v Force, Saturday 26 March, 7.35pm, Hamilton

The Chiefs have dominated the history between these two sides with seven wins out of the nine head-to-head encounters. The Force can take confidence from the fact that they have won two of their last three matches away from home but will face a Chiefs side desperate to solidify its place at the top of the New Zealand conference.

For the first time since 2011, legendary Chiefs pivot Stephen Donald will pull on a Chiefs jersey. The 2011 Rugby World Cup hero will start from the bench and expect a massive reception from the Waikato Stadium faithful if ‘Beaver’ gets on the field. Word is that the 32-year-old has lost none of his attacking flair and will be looking to excite the home crowd should he get the chance.

In Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Brad Weber, the Chiefs boast two of the most exciting halfbacks in Super Rugby. While Kerr-Barlow has been the regular starter at nine for the Chiefs, Weber showed his impact off the bench by scoring the match-winning try against the Jaguares last week. This week, Kerr-Barlow gets a rest while Manawatu halfback Kanye Hammington has the chance to make his Chiefs debut from the bench.

After footing it with the Hurricanes last week before being blown away in the final 20 minutes, Force Coach Michael Foley has a simple message for his team this week: “Ultimately, we will stay true to the way we want to play and won’t lose sight of what we are trying to achieve, but to take the next step and win those games, will mean being more relentless to finish our work when we have momentum at different times throughout the game.”

Expect plenty of try-scoring action in this contest. After four rounds, the Chiefs have crossed for more tries than any other team with 19 five-pointers. The Rebels have also flexed their attacking muscle in crossing for 12 tries. With a fine day forecast for Saturday, the scene is set for another free-flowing match-up. Get your TICKETS HERE to see the action live. 

Chiefs: 15: Damian McKenzie 14: Sam McNichol 13: Seta Tamanivalu 12: Charlie Ngatai 11: James Lowe 10: Aaron Cruden 9: Brad Weber 8: Michael Leitch 7: Sam Cane 6: Tom Sanders 5: Taleni Seu 4: Michael Allardice 3: Siate Tokolahi 2: Hika Elliot 1: Mitchell Graham

Reserves: Rhys Marshall, Atu Moli, Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, James Tucker, Sam Henwood, Kayne Hammington, Stephen Donald, Toni Pulu

Force: 15: Dane Haylett-Petty 14: Marcel Brache 13: Ben Tapuai 12: Solomoni Rasolea 11: Semisi Masirewa 10: Peter Grant 9: Alby Mathewson 8: Angus Cottrell 7: Matt Hodgson 6: Brynard Stander 5: Adam Coleman 4: Ross Haylett-Petty 3: Tetera Faulkner 2: Heath Tessmann 1: Pekahou Cowan

Reserves: Chris Heiberg, Nathan Charles, Jermaine Ainsley, Sitiveni (Stevie) Mafi, Ben McCalman, Ryan Louwrens, Ian Prior, Albert Nikoro