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PREVIEW: Chiefs v Waratahs

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016    allblacks.com    Getty Images

ROUND 14: Waratahs v Chiefs, Friday 27 May, 9.45pm, Sydney

TALE OF THE TAPE
Although both teams are leading their respective conferences, the Chiefs have been more impressive with 11 wins from nine matches while the Waratahs have won six and lost five. The Sydney-based side will take confidence from their recent record against the Chiefs which includes five wins from the last six encounters. Countering that, the Chiefs are the only team to win all their matches away from home so far this season.

HEAD-TO-HEAD CLASHES

A feature of this match is the number of world-class one-on-one battles across the park. In the midfield, the powerful Seta Tamanivalu faces his biggest test in Waratahs star Israel Folau. At openside flanker, Sam Cane squares off against the classy Michael Hooper in a potential pre-cursor to an All Blacks vs Wallabies clash. At first-five, Aaron Cruden battles current Wallabies pivot Bernard Foley and in the engine room, Brodie Retallick mixes it up with Waratahs giant Will Skelton.
TRY TIME
With both teams boasting attacking firepower, a try scoring fiesta could erupt at Allianz Stadium. The Chiefs are the only team to cross for more than 50 tries this season (52) while the Waratahs have prolific try-scorers sprinkled throughout their side. Israel Folau has been in devastating form this season this year with six tries while live-wire halfback Nick Phipps has crossed for five. Damian McKenzie is the leading Chiefs try scorer with seven.

SANDERS INTO THE PACK
With inspirational No.8 Michael Leitch ruled out for 8-10 weeks due to a hand injury, 22-year-old loose forward Tom Sanders gets a chance in the starting line-up for the Chiefs. Normally a blindside flanker, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie says the strong form of Taleni Seu means that Sanders takes over at the back of the pack: “Tom has got a lot of footy under his belt and is learning lots. We’ll need a big one out of him.”
TEAMS
WARATAHS: 15: Andrew Kellaway 14: Matt Carraro 13: Israel Folau 12: Rob Horne 11: Zac Guilford 10: Bernard Foley 9: Nick Phipps 8: Wycliff Palu 7: Michael Hooper 6: Dean Mumm 5: Will Skelton 4: Dave Dennis 3: Tom Robertson 2: Tatafu Polota-Nau 1: Paddy Ryan
Reserves: 16: Hugh Roach 17: Jeremy Tilse 18: Angus Ta’avao 19: Sam Lousi 20: Jack Dempsey 21: Matt Lucas 22: David Horwitz 23: Reece Robinson

CHIEFS: 15: Damian McKenzie 14: Toni Pulu 13: Seta Tamanivalu 12: Anton Lienert-Brown 11: James Lowe 10: Aaron Cruden 9: Brad Weber 8: Tom Sanders 7: Sam Cane 6: Taleni Seu 5: Brodie Retallick 4: Dominic Bird 3: Hiroshi Yamashita 2: Nathan Harris 1: Mitchell Graham
Reserves: 16: Hika Elliot 17: Kane Hames 18: Siegfried Fisi’ihoi 19: Michael Allardice 20: Lachlan Boshier 21: Kayne Hammington 22: Andrew Horrell 23: Sam Vaka