Super Rugby Preview: Chiefs v Blues

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Thursday, April 11, 2019    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Match Details: Chiefs v Blues, FMG Stadium Waikato, 7.35pm, April 13, 2019

Played: 30
Won: Chiefs 19, Blues 10, Drawn 1
Last time: Chiefs 21-19 Blues, at FMG Waikato Stadium, April 7, 2018.
Referee: Angus Gardner


After a disappointing start to their campaign with four consecutive losses (against the Highlanders 27-30, Brumbies 17-54a, Sunwolves 15-30 and Crusaders 28-57a) the Chiefs made the most of their overseas tour to hammer the Bulls (58-20) while facing a harder contest before beating the Jaguares (30-27). The Blues too, had three losses in their opening games (to the Crusaders 22-24, the Sharks 7-26a and the Jaguares 19-23a) before finding their form against the Sunwolves 28-20, the Highlanders 33-26, the Stormers 24-9 and the Waratahs 32-29, all at home.


Whichever way you look at it this is shaping as yet another close contest between these two sides. On the statistical comparison they are very close. In terms of clean breaks the Blues are fifth, with the Chiefs one back, in defenders beaten the Blues are third in the competition and the Chiefs fifth. The Chiefs have made most passes in the competition (159.4) while the Blues are third (154.7). Neither side likes kicking much, the Chiefs being 12th and the Blues 14th for kicks from hand. The Chiefs have done a lot of tackling with an average of 121.7 per game to be seventh while the Blues average 110.1 which is 13th, but in missed tackles the Blues have conceded an average of 17.6, second best in the competition, and the Chiefs 23.3 or 13th overall.


Up front the genuine effort by the Blues to build their depth can be seen with props Ofa Tuungafasi and Karl Tu'inukuafe starting this week against their All Blacks teammates, Angus Taavao, starting on the loosehead with Nepo Laulala on the tight. The difference for the Blues is that as back-up they have Alex Hodgman and Sione Mafileo who have been doing the starting duties for much of the season. By comparison, the Chiefs have relative rookies in Ryan Coxon, who has played one game, and Sosefo Kautai, who has played seven, on their bench as back-up. Blues forward coach Tom Coventry highlighted the process the side has undertaken with its pack with the re-signing of hooker James Parsons. "He is getting better with experience and his form and leadership make him an important player to re-sign when players of his age are departing New Zealand. Retaining experience is critical to our development," Coventry said.


The Chiefs take a great record into the game. They are unbeaten in the last 14 games played between the sides, one of them being drawn, and of the last eight wins only one has been by more than seven points.


Blues wing Rieko Ioane might have been out of the try scoring action last weekend but he has scored seven, second on the season list while he has made 16 clean breaks, more than any other player.


Chiefs: 1.Angus Ta'avao, 2.Nathan Harris, 3.Nepo Laulala, 4.Brodie Retallick (captain), 5.Tyler Ardron, 6.Luke Jacobson, 7.Lachlan Boshier, 8.Taleni Seu, 9.Brad Weber, 10.Marty McKenzie, 11.Solomon Alaimalo, 12.Anton Lienert-Brown, 13.Tumua Manu, 14.Sean Wainui, 15.Damian McKenzie.

Substitutes: 16.Samisoni Taukei'aho, 17.Ryan Coxon, 18.Sosefo Kautai, 19.Jesse Parete, 20.Pita Gus Sowakula, 21.Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22.Alex Nankivell, 23.Ataata Moeakiola.

Blues: 1.Karl Tu'inukukafe, 2.James Parsons, 3.Ofa Tuungafasi, 4.Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 5.Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 6.Tom Robinson, 7.Dalton Papalii, 8.Akira Ioane, 9.Jonathan Ruru, 10.Otere Black, 11.Rieko Ioane, 12.Ma'a Nonu, 13.TJ Faiane, 14.Caleb Clarke, 15.Melani Nanai.

Substitutes: 16.Matt Moulds, 17.Alex Hodgman, 18.Sione Mafileo, 19.Josh Goodhue, 20.Jed Brown, 21.Sam Nock, 22.Harry Plummer, 23.Matt Duffie.