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SEMIFINAL PREVIEW: Crusaders v Chiefs

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Friday, July 28, 2017    allblacks.com    Getty Images


MATCH DETAILS:
Crusaders v Chiefs, 7.35pm Saturday 29 July, AMI Stadium, Christchurch

TALE OF THE TAPE

The Crusaders and Chiefs enjoy a long standing rivalry with the Crusaders winning 17 matches compared to the Chiefs 13 from their 30 meetings. The Crusaders edged the Chiefs 31-24 in Fiji earlier this season to snap a four match losing streak against the Chiefs. Both teams are in good form with the Crusaders completely dominant in shutting out the Highlanders 17-0 while the Chiefs dug deep to take out the Stormers 17-11 in Cape Town. 

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METRE EATERS
The Chiefs are a team that like to counter attack and keep the ball alive. This is illustrated in the dynamic form shown by outside backs Damian McKenzie and James Lowe who have roamed freely in 2017. The elusive duo have ran more metres than any other player in the competition with McKenzie running a remarkable 1565 metres and Lowe 1274 metres. Crusaders fullback David Havili has been just as dangerous for the red and blacks with 1138 metres ran. Expect all three of these players to add plenty more metres to their tally on Saturday night.

KEY MATCH UP

There are a number of crucial battles across the park but none more influential than the clash between locks Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick. Combined they are one of the most feared locking combinations on the planet for the All Blacks, but apart they are equally pivotal for their teams. Whitelock has led the Crusaders superbly in 2017 with his lead from the front style of play, while Retallick has been dominant for the Chiefs in all facets of play.
WEATHER WORRIES
After enduring horrendous conditions for last week’s Crusaders v Highlanders quarterfinal, Christchurch has been hit by more rain this week to set up another potential wet encounter. Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said his team have no qualms playing in the wet: "The wetter, the better. Hell, yeah. We are from the deep south. It is raining, you embrace it and you enjoy it." Robertson said. Despite the rain throughout the week, the forecast for Christchurch is clear and sunny with a high of 8 degrees.

FAST FACT
The Crusaders and Chiefs have met in semifinals twice before (2012 and 2013) with the Chiefs winning on both occasions.

TEAMS
Crusaders: David Havili, Israel Dagg, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, Seta Tamanivalu, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua, Sam Whitelock (captain), Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Pete Samu, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, George Bridge.

Chiefs: Damian McKenzie, Tim Nanai-Williams, Anton Lienert-Brown, Charlie Ngatai, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden (co-c), Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Michael Leitch, Sam Cane (co-c), Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Mitchell Brown, Nepo Laulala, Nathan Harris, Kane Hames. Reserves: Liam Polwart, Aidan Ross, Atu Moli, Dominic Bird, Lachlan Boshier, Finlay Christie, Stephen Donald, Shaun Stevenson.