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PREVIEW: Chiefs v Hurricanes

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Match details: Chiefs v Hurricanes, 7.35pm Friday 13 July, FMG Stadium Waikato. TICKETS.

Played: 31
Won: Hurricanes 16, Chiefs 14
Drawn: 1
Last time: Hurricanes 25, Chiefs 13 (13 April 2018)

FORM
The Chiefs returned from the June break with a hiss and a roar. They were hugely impressive in thumping the Highlanders 45-22 in Suva before digging deep to hold off a fast-finishing Brumbies side 24-19 in Hamilton last week. The Hurricanes were flat in their 24-12 loss to the Brumbies in Canberra but regained their attacking flair against the Blues last week with a 42-24 victory.

QUICK TAP: HIGH STAKES REMAIN FOR CHIEFS-HURRICANES IN HAMILTON

MAGIC 23
Twenty three is the magic number for the Chiefs. If they can beat the Hurricanes by 23 points with a bonus point they will secure a home quarterfinal. This means that the Hurricanes will lose home advantage and return to Hamilton for a crunch quarterfinal against the Chiefs next weekend. The Chiefs don’t have to look far for inspiration. Just two weeks ago they piled 42 points on the Highlanders in a flawless first half. If they repeat that performance against the Hurricanes then it could be playoff time in Hamilton.
BACKLINE BATTLE
There will be no shortage of entertainment with two of the most exciting backlines in Super Rugby going head-to-head. When considering the Chiefs need to win by 23 to book a home playoff and the Hurricanes desire to rediscover their attacking flair we are set for a barnstormer. The Hurricanes back three of Nehe Milner-Skudder, Julian Savea and Jordie Barrett are world class, but it is the inside pairing of TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett and Ngani Laumape that will have the Chiefs most worried. Laumape was unstoppable last week with four tries against the Blues and his clash against Chiefs captain Charlie Ngatai will be pivotal. Solomon Alaimalo tops all of the competitions attacking statistics and will be looking to make his mark in what is the biggest game of the year so far for the Chiefs.
FAST FACT
The Chiefs have won three of their last four regular season games against the Hurricanes.

THE SCOOP

There’s certain to be plenty of running in this match as the Chiefs chase a victory by 23 points or more. The return of Brodie Retallick will be massive for the Chiefs but has been offset by the enforced resting of Damian McKenzie. If McKenzie’s older brother Marty can do his best impersonation at first five-eighth on Friday night and ignite the Chiefs exciting outside backs then anything is possible.

TEAMS
Chiefs:
Solomon Alaimalo, Toni Pulu, Anton Lienert-Brown, Charlie Ngatai (c), Shaun Stevenson, Marty McKenzie, Brad Weber, Jesse Parete, Mitch Karpik, Lachlan Boshier, Tyler Ardron, Brodie Retallick, Angus Ta'avao, Liam Polwart, Sam Prattley. Reserves: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Jeff Thwaites, Michael Allardice, Liam Messam, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Tiaan Falcon, Johnny Fa'auli.

Hurricanes:
Jordie Barrett, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Wes Goosen, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Blade Thomson, Sam Henwood, Brad Shields (c), Sam Lousi, Michael Fatialofa, Jeff To'omaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Toby Smith. Reserves: James O'Reilly, Chris Eves, Ben May, Gareth Evans, Reed Prinsep, Finlay Christie, Ihaia West, Julian Savea.