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PREVIEW: Hurricanes v Chiefs

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Thursday, April 21, 2016    allblacks.com    Getty Images

ROUND 9: Hurricanes v Chiefs, Saturday 23 April, 7.35pm, Westpac Stadium

TALE OF THE TAPE
After dropping their first two matches, the Hurricanes have chalked up five straight wins to move into third place in the New Zealand Conference. A convincing win will see the Hurricanes leapfrog the Chiefs into top spot. With nine losses from their last 10 away matches against the Hurricanes, the Chiefs will need to reverse recent history to secure victory in Wellington.
ALL BLACKS TRIAL?
A number of match-ups across the park look like direct showdowns for national positions. At first-five, Beauden Barrett’s searing pace and game breaking ability squares off with Aaron Cruden’s vision and accuracy. In the seven jersey, Chiefs workhorse and leader Sam Cane faces an immense challenge from the explosive Ardie Savea. At halfback, the battle between TJ Perenara and Brad Weber could go a long way to deciding who joins Aaron Smith in the battle for the All Blacks nine jersey. And that is just three of the many crucial head-to-head battles in this encounter.

MIDFIELD SHOWDOWN
The Chiefs arguably have the most perfectly balanced midfield combination in Super Rugby in Charlie Ngatai and Seta Tamanivalu. With Ngatai being withdrawn from the starting line up late in the week, the Chiefs lose nothing in Andrew Horrell. The Hawke's Bay product will be playing his 50th Super Rugby match and is a fine decision maker, distributor and defensive organiser. In the 13 jersey, the Chiefs boast the destructive Tamanivalu. The 23-year old Fijian-born powerhouse is one of the most lethal ball runners in the competition. The Hurricanes new pairing of Matt Proctor and Vince Aso combined well against the Rebels last week and will need to back it up this weekend.

BE THERE
A big crowd is expected at Westpac Stadium for this epic ANZAC weekend clash. With an ANZAC commemoration ceremony prior to the match, the popular half time ‘Hurri-oke’ in action and the passionate ‘Flying Squadron’ in full voice, make sure you get TICKETS HERE to experience the spectacle.
TEAMS
Hurricanes: 15: Jason Woodward 14: Cory Jane 13: Matt Proctor 12: Vince Aso 11: Julian Savea 10: Beauden Barrett 9: TJ Perenara 8: Victor Vito 7: Ardie Savea 6: Brad Shields 5: Michael Fatialofa 4: Blade Thomson 3: Jeffery Toomaga-Allen 2: Dane Coles (C) 1: Reg Goodes
Reserves: 16: Motu Matu’u 17: Chris Eves 18: Loni Uhila 19: Vaea Fifita 20: Callum Gibbins 21: Te Toiroa Tahurirorangi 22: Willis Halaholo 23: James Marshall

Chiefs: 15: Damian McKenzie 14: Toni Pulu 13: Seta Tamanivalu 12: Andrew Horrell 11: Sam McNichol 10: Aaron Cruden 9: Brad Weber 8: Michael Leitch 7: Sam Cane 6: Tom Sanders 5: Brodie Retallick 4: Michael Allardice 3: Atu Moli 2: Rhys Marshall 1: Mitchell Graham
Reserves: Hika Elliot, Siate Tokolahi, Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Taleni Seu, Maama Vaipulu, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Stephen Donald, Glen Fisiiahi