PREVIEW: Chiefs v Blues

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Thursday, April 7, 2016    Getty Images

ROUND SEVEN: Chiefs v Blues, Friday 8 April, 7.35pm, Hamilton

The Chiefs have been the stand out team in Super Rugby so far this season, taking a six point lead over the second placed Stormers on the overall ladder. While the Blues have shown they are a vastly improved team from their 2015 class, they have lost their last nine matches against the Chiefs and will need a special performance to snap that streak in Hamilton.

A key to the Chiefs success this year has been their willingness to attack from anywhere on the park. With big ball runners soaking up the defence up front, play maker Aaron Cruden has been able to spark a backline then can seemingly find gaps in any defence. In total, the Chiefs have scored 34 tries this season, 12 more than any other side. Form fullback Damian McKenzie tops the Super Rugby try scoring chart with 7 tries while wing James Lowe and mid-fielder Charlie Ngatai are second equal with five tries.
As if the Chiefs lineout success rate of 97.7 percent wasn’t imposing enough, they welcome All Black Brodie Retallick and former Crusader Dominic Bird into the second row this weekend. At 2.06, Bird is one of the tallest players in Super Rugby and a line out specialist. Retallick is quite simply one of the premier forwards in the world game and will boost the Chiefs with his experience and ability across the park.

With All Black lock Patrick Tuipulotu ruled out for two weeks with a fractured hand, former Six60 guitarist Hoani Matenga has been called up to combat the Chiefs imposing second row. Matenga is a proficient line-out operator and strong ball runner who has performed well off the bench for the Blues this season. He will join Josh Bekhuis in an intriguing battle against the Chiefs star combination of Dominic Bird and Brodie Retallick.

With two attacking teams set to square-off, the stage is set for a blockbuster encounter. The Blues are desperate to win to keep in touch with the New Zealand conference leaders while the Chiefs will not want to relinquish their place at the top of the ladder. Get tickets HERE and experience the action LIVE.
Chiefs: 1: Mitchell Graham 2: Hika Elliot 3: Atu Moli 4: Dominic Bird 5: Brodie Retallick 6: Maama Vaipulu 7: Sam Cane © 8: Michael Leitch 9: Brad Weber 10: Aaron Cruden 11: James Lowe 12: Charlie Ngatai 13: Anton Lienert-Brown 14: Shaun Stevenson 15: Damian McKenzie
Reserves: Rhys Marshall, Siate Tokolahi, Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Taleni Seu, Sam Henwood, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Seta Tamanivalu, Sam McNichol

Blues: 1: Sam Prattley 2: James Parsons (C) 3: Charlie Faumuina 4: Hoani Matenga 5: Josh Bekhuis 6: Joe Edwards 7: Blake Gibson 8: Steven Luatau 9: Bryn Hall 10: Ihaia West 11: Tevita Li 12: Piers Francis 13: Rene Ranger 14: Rieko Ioane 15: Lolagi Visina
Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Namatahi Waa, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Akira Ioane, Kara Pryor, Billy Guyton, Matt McGahan, George Moala