PREVIEW: Chiefs v Brumbies

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Thursday, July 5, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Match details: Chiefs v Brumbies, FMG Stadium, Hamilton 5.15pm Saturday. TICKETS

Played: 24
Won: Chiefs 10, Brumbies 13, Drawn 1
Last time: Chiefs 28-10 Brumbes, July 15, 2017, Hamilton.


The Chiefs have won nine games to date: Blues (27-21a and 21-19h), the Bulls (41-28h), the Sunwolves (61-10a), the Highlanders (27-22h and 45-22h), the Reds (36-12a), the Stormers (15-9a), the Waratahs (39-27h). And they have lost twice to the Crusaders (29-45a and 20-34h), the Hurricanes (13-25a), the Jaguares (19-23h) and the Sharks (24-28a). The Brumbies have not fared as well. They won three of their first six games, then lost five in succession before winning their last three. They beat: the Sunwolves (32-25a and 41-31h), the Sharks (24-17h), the Reds (45-21h), the Bulls (38-28a) and the Hurricanes (24-12h). While they have lost to the Reds (10-18a), the Rebels (10-33a and 24-27h), the Waratahs (17-24h), the Highlanders (17-43a), the Jaguares (20-25h), the Crusaders (8-21h) and the Lions (24-42a).


Coach Colin Cooper said, "We are hoping to build the confidence and excitement from the Highlanders' game and take that into the Brumbies game this weekend. Both teams are great attacking teams, playing with a lot of confidence. It'll be a great spectacle and our home fans can give us the edge we need. The Brumbies are coming here with confidence after beating the Hurricanes. They have an outstanding loose forward in [David] Pocock who will be a real threat. They have a great lineout and are always a threat on attack." In the side centre Anton Lienert-Brown's required time off for the All Blacks has been taken allowing Sean Wainui a shot at centre allowing Shaun Stevenson a start on the left wing. Hooker Nathan Harris is back after paternity leave.


The playoffs are still a realistic goal for the Brumbies but coach Dan McKellar said they will not be ladder watching. Their hopes could be helped if the Reds beat the Rebels on Friday. McKellar, whose trip with the team to Hamilton didn't get off to the best start when fog delayed their departure from Canberra, rated the Chiefs the most dangerous side in the competition. While the Chiefs might be concerned about Pocock, the Brumbies had their concerns over first five-eighths Damian McKenzie and McKellar acknowledged that McKenzie's presence made their job tougher. "We want to come here and beat the best team. You want to earn a win in New Zealand and having McKenzie there makes the challenge tougher, but we've had an excellent preparation and the boys are ready to go," he told the Canberra Times. "They've [the Chiefs] got an excellent offload game, they've got speed and very good support play. Like they did last week…if those offloads stick they can get a score quickly. They're dangerous, but they also present you with opportunities because they play so much. Defence is critical for us this weekend," he said.


One area the Brumbies will have to watch is the Chiefs' ability to make clean breaks and offloads. They average 15 clean breaks and 13 offloads per game this season – the most of any team in the competition.


Chiefs: 1.Karl Tu'inukuafe, 2.Nathan Harris, 3.Angus Ta'avao, 4.Michael Allardice, 5.Tyler Ardron, 6.Luke Jacobson, 7.Sam Cane (captain), 8.Liam Messam, 9.Brad Weber, 10.Damian McKenzie, 11.Shaun Stevenson, 12.Charlie Ngatai, 13.Sean Wainui, 14.Toni Pulu, 15.Solomon Alaimalo.

Substitutes: 16.Samison Taukei'aho, 17.Sam Prattley, 18.Jeff Thwaites, 19.Jesse Parete, 20.Lachlan Boshier, 21.Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22.Marty McKenzie, 23.Johnny Faauli.

Brumbies: 1.Nic Mayhew, 2.Folau Fainga'a, 3.Allan Alaalatoa, 4.Rory Arnold, 5.Blake Enever, 6.Tom Cusack, 7.David Pocock, 8.Isi Naisarani, 9.Joe Powell, 10.Christian Lealiifano, 11.Andrew Muirhead, 12.Kyle Godwin, 13.Tevita Kuridrani, 14.Henry Speight, 15.Tom Banks.

Substitutes: 16.Connal McInerney, 17.Ben Alexander, 18.Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19.Richie Arnold, 20.Lachlan McCaffrey, 21.Matt Lucas, 22.Wharenui Hawera, 23.Lausii Taliauli.