PREVIEW: Chiefs v Blues

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Thursday, April 5, 2018    Getty Images

Match details: Chiefs v Blues, FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton, April 7, 2018. TICKETS.  

Played: 29
Won: Chiefs 18, Blues 10, Draws 1
Last time: Chiefs 27-21 Blues, Eden Park, March 2, 2018

Since their first round loss to the Crusaders (23-45), the Chiefs have responded in style. They beat the Blues (27-21), the Bulls (41-28), the Sunwolves (61-10) and the Highlanders 27-22, all while down on players due to the injury concerns they have suffered. The Blues on the other hand after their losses to the Highlanders (34-41) and the Chiefs, turned around and beat the Lions at Ellis Park (38-35) with a superb comeback but then have lost to the Stormers in Cape Town (20-37) and last week to the Sharks (40-63).

It doesn't get any easier for the Blues this weekend. Talk about a bogey team, but that's the way the Blues must feel about the Chiefs. The Hamilton-ites have not gone down to their big city rivals in 13 games (one drawn) – that's the longest streak between any teams in Super Rugby. Making things worse is the fact the Blues have lost 23 of their last 24 away games against New Zealand sides – their only win was against the Hurricanes in 2013.


Whatever it is that the Chiefs do to the players they entrust with coming in on injury watch, it might be worth patenting. So severely have the Chiefs been hit by injury – again it must be said – that they have made good use of calling up players who had been uncontracted. First off, tighthead prop Angus Ta'avao has been demonstrating his worth with some fine play in the tight five, but then Sean Wainui, originally in the midfield but now on the wing, has been making the most of his chances. So well have the two players done you would have to wonder why they never won contracts originally?

Looking at the statistics sheet you would be wary of being on the receiving end of the Blues when they get it right. While the Chiefs have been posting an average of 35.8 points per game, the Blues have been posting 30.6 with the Chiefs scoring 4.8 tries to the Blues 4.2. But in carries (131.8 to the Blues over 121.8 for the Chiefs), metres made (531.6:525.6), defenders beaten (31.2:28.8), offloads (15.2:12) and passes (171.6:145.6) the Blues come out on top. However, in missed tackles they have 23.2 as opposed to 20.4 by the Chiefs and the Chiefs tackle percentage is 84 percent and the Blues 80 percent. That's what Blues coach Tana Umaga wants to see improved in the weeks ahead. If he can get that response who knows what the Blues might be able to achieve.
It's almost a Ripley's Believe It or Not fact but the Blues have averaged the most possession of any side this season, for one win, while averaging over 30 points and four tries a game!

Chiefs: 1.Aidan Ross, 2.Nathan Harris, 3.Angus Ta'avao, 4.Brodie Retallick, 5.Tyler Ardron, 6.Lachlan Boshier, 7.Sam Cane (captain), 8.Pita Gus Sowakula, 9.Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 10.Damian McKenzie, 11.Sean Wainui, 12.Johnny Faauli, 13.Anton Lienert-Brown, 14.Toni Pulu, 15.Solomon Alaimalo.

Substitutes: 16.Liam Polwart, 17.Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18.Jeff Thwaites, 19.Luke Jacobson, 20.Liam Messam, 21.Jonathan Taumateine, 22.Charlie Ngatai, 23.Marty McKenzie.

Blues: 1.Pauliasi Manu, 2.James Parsons (captain), 3.Ofa Tuungafasi, 4.Patrick Tuipulotu, 5.Josh Goodhue, 6.Jerome Kaino, 7.Kara Pryor, 8.Akira Ioane; 9.Jonathan Ruru, 10.Stephen Perofeta, 11.George Moala, 12.TJ Faiane, 13.Rieko Ioane, 14.Matt Duffie/Jordan Hyland, 15.Michael Collins.
Reserves: 16.Matt Moulds, 17.Ross Wright, 18.Mike Tamoaieta, 19.Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20.Dalton Papalii, 21.Sam Nock, 22.Bryn Gatland, 23.Orbyn Leger.